Police in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh are looking for a thief or thieves who stole a rhino horn from the house of a bank tycoon, Cong An TP HCM (Ho Chi Minh City police) newspaper reported Tuesday.
On September 27 Tram Be's family found a four-kilogram rhino horn missing from their house of worship in Ham Giang Commune, Tra Cu District.
The horn is estimated to be worth more than VND4 billion (US$191,600), the police said.
But they did not reveal from where Be got it.
Vietnam's Law on Biodiversity bans poaching, exploitation, slaughter, consumption, transport, and trading of endangered animals and their parts.
But the country allows import of wild animal parts by hunters as trophies. Between 2006 and 2012 some 10-30 rhino horns were legally imported each year.
On Wednesday the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society informed the Tra Vinh police that the rhino horn missing from Be's residence may have been illegally imported into Vietnam.
He is neither in the list of legal importers of rhino horns compiled by CITES Vietnam, nor in the WCS' list of legal exporters of rhino horns as hunting trophies from South Africa, it said.
It also wants Vietnamese authorities to confirm the legitimacy of the missing horn.
Be, deputy chairman of Sacombank, one of the country's major banks, and former chairman of Phuong Nam Bank, built a large house in Tra Vinh to worship his ancestors and hires nine people to guard and clean the place.
The rhino is thought to be extinct in Vietnam after the World Wildlife Fund and the International Rhino Foundation said the country's last Javan rhino was probably killed by poachers in October last year.
Do Quang Tung, deputy director in Vietnam for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, said last month that Vietnam seized more than 100 kilograms of rhino horn in the last six years, the highest in the world.
A recent report by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC said in Asia Vietnam has the highest number of crimes related to South African rhinos.
The WWF ranks Vietnam and China as the world's top rhino horn markets due to their peoples' strong belief in its medicinal properties.
Many Vietnamese believe the rhino horn can cure cancer, while the nouveux riches use its powder to keep them sober at parties.
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