The civil strife in this part of Africa with continuing wars, freedom fighters, rebel groups, conflicting political groups has left a legacy – a surplus of weapons readily available for purchase relatively cheaply. Combine this with poverty and greed and there is a willing workforce of poachers ready to respond to the demand for rhino horn… and Rhino horn is worth its weight in gold - the black market value is US$40,000 for a single horn.
Though rhino horn is made of nothing more than matted hair it is in great demand. In North Yemen, the most valuable Djambia daggers have handles made from rhino horn. In China and the far east, the powdered horn is highly regarded as a traditional medicine for treating fevers but it is not used as an aphrodisiac as has been suggested.
The middlemen in the Far East can make a fortune from trading in the horn and the individual poacher is only paid a fraction of the value but it still represents a large sum to him - a sum for which he is prepared to risk his life.