Vietnamese conservationists said rhino horn was being used more as a status symbol than for medical purposes, as the country's middle class continues to grow.
South African and Vietnamese officials signed a memorandum of understanding between the two countries this week, in an effort to strengthen cooperation on issues of conservation - including the rhino horn trade.
In a recent survey conducted by one of Vietnam’s most popular newspapers, more than half the respondents said they thought the use of rhino horn had some benefits.
Despite local believes that it cures hangover and can even help cancer, studies have shown it can reduce fever and little else.
But costing more than R40,000 for a 100-gram bag, conservationists said it was also used as a high-status gift or demonstration of wealth.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Hong Wang said, “The problem is that they have nothing to lose because they have the money. They don’t have any punishment, there is no known bad effect to health – so why not?”
She said there was not enough enforcement to discourage the trade.