There's a fairly new belief among many Vietnamese people that ground rhino horn can cure both cancer and the humble hangover — as well as increase virility. These beliefs have resulted in the slaying of hundreds of rhinos each year, and horns sell on the black market for an astronomical $300,000 [source: Guilford].
The rhino horn craze began around 2008, a few years after a rumor swept the country that a former politician's cancer was cured by ingesting powdered rhino horn. A few doctors actually vouched for the remedy. At the same time, an increasing number of Vietnamese people were being diagnosed with cancer, yet they faced long waits before traditional medical treatments such as radiation were available. As the society is getting wealthier, a black market for the rhino horn emerged [source: Guilford].
A few years later — around 2012 — the rhino horn started to become popular also as a hangover cure and an aphrodisiac. In fact those are the two most common uses for it now, according to a recent report [source: Nowell]. Exactly how ground rhino horn became associated with hangovers is a bit of a mystery. Scientific studies don't show any pharmacological value in the rhino horn. It may simply be a case of marketing: The horn is part of a cleansing drink advertised to detox your liver after a wild night of partying. The saddest part of this is that the rhino is now extinct in Vietnam, and there's been a huge increase in rhino killings elsewhere in the world — 688 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2012 versus 15 in 2007 [sources: Main, Guilford].