National Geographic : 2012 Mar
• part by one of Ho Chi Minh's former secretaries, a regular at the café, who told them that Ho, a rm believer in traditional medicine, had taken rhino horn every day. A er minutes of rubbing, the man poured the liquid into two shot glasses and handed one to Ms. ien and the other to me. It had a faintly gritty texture but otherwise was tasteless. Ms. ien drained her glass and set it on the table. "I hope it works," she said. JOHN HUME BELIEVES no rhinos need to die to supply all the rhino horn the Vietnamese desire. e -year-old entrepreneur, who made a for- tune in hotels and taxis before turning to game farming, has amassed one of the largest privately owned rhino herds in the world. Currently he has more than white and black rhinos on two farms in South Africa and wants more. "We take wool from sheep, why not horn from rhinos?" he asks one a ernoon, sitting in the o ce of one of his farms as an albino parrot named Sebastian nuzzles his ear. "If you cut the horn about three inches above its base, it will grow back in two years. at means there is a never ending supply of rhino horn if we're smart enough to keep the bloody animals alive." Nearly once a week Hume's game manager and a veterinarian, observed by a wildlife offi- cial, anesthetize one of his rhinos and remove its two horns with a power saw. Twenty minutes later the animal is back grazing, and the horns, implanted with microchips, are on their way to a bank safe. Hume refuses to say how much horn he has accumulated since he began harvest- ing in , but a conservative estimate would Preparing a hunter's kill After a hunt on a private game farm, a slab of rhino meat hangs in cold storage, while workers cure the white bull's hide with rock salt. Each year South Africa's parks sell off game animals, including rhinos, when populations exceed available resources. The proceeds fund conservation projects, and game farmers breed them for hunters and ecotourism. Conservationists credit the system for expanding rhino numbers during the past 20 years but say in recent years the system has been corrupted by rogue hunters and game farmers involved in the illegal horn trade.