Myths can be lethal.
A friend of mine just got back from a trip to Botswana to see the wildlife; she told me one of the guides told them there’s been a big surge in rhino poaching and it’s because of a myth in Vietnam that a bit of rhino before you get shitfaced will make the hangover not so bad. Well that’s a pathetic reason to wipe out a species, even if it’s true.
So I Googled, and there’s reporting on it. Like a piece titled
Drunks in Vietnam have recently acquired a taste for rhinoceros horn and, frankly, the timing couldn’t be worse. The selfish lushes will pay $50,000 for a pound of horn, believing it will cure their hangovers, and the surge in demand is pushing rhinos to the very brink of extinction. It seems the dwindling rhinoceros population is inversely linked to an increase in stupid medical mysticism.
Why the fuck couldn’t they make the stupid myth be about dandelions or dust or something else abundant and easy to produce?
The Atlantic reported on it at the same time, last May.
Rhino Horn: Party Drug Some conservation groups, however, don’t think rhino horn’s newfound popularity in Vietnam has much to do with the cancer cure-all rumor (pdf, p.2). The more likely reason, they say, is that the horn powder is increasingly seen as a cocaine-like party drug, virility enhancer and luxury item–“the alcoholic drink of millionaires,” as a Vietnamese news site called it.
That’s partly because it is supposed to help the liver. With alcohol consumption on the rise as living standards improve, the swinging Vietnamese now prize rhino horn as a way to let them drink more and cure hangovers faster. Tom Milliken, an expert on the rhino horn market, reckons that a rhino-horn detox, “especially following excessive intake of alcohol, is probably the most common routine usage promoted in the marketplace“.
Ah it’s our old friend detox again. Goodbye rhinos, hello bogus “detox” drug.