Rhino horn and organized crime, from Africa to China and Vietnam


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Investigative reporters John Grobler and Shi Yi and history professor Nicole Elizabeth Barnes discuss the illegal rhino horn trade between Africa and Asia.

John Grobler is a Namibian investigative reporter who has devoted more than two years of his life to examining the complex webs of organized crime that funnel rhino horn from Africa to East Asia. Shi Yi 石毅, a Chinese environmental reporter, worked with him and went undercover posing as a businessperson to meet and report on the young Chinese men who engage in this nefarious activity abroad. Jeremy chatted with both of them when he attended the Africa-China Journalists Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November 2016 (listen to his other conversations with African journalists on last week’s Sinica Podcast).

Separately, Kaiser interviewed Nicole Elizabeth Barnes of Duke University, an expert on Chinese medicine. Nicole, John, and Shi Yi all discussed China’s role in the illegal rhino horn trade, debunking myths about its use as an aphrodisiac and explaining how upper-class and status-conscious Chinese and Vietnamese are fueling demand for this and other rare natural products.

All three recommend that listeners support WildAid, one of the foremost organizations campaigning against the poaching of elephants and black rhinos. John also recommends supporting Oxpeckers, an African environmental investigative reporting unit that supports his work in Namibia. Nicole further recommends supporting the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy, as well as marking World Rhino Day, September 22, on your calendar to raise awareness of the work that CITES and TRAFFIC do to monitor and crack down on illegal wildlife trade.