Bad Medicine

The best loot is hidden in the back, past the seahorse skeletons and powdered pangolin. From inside a rusted safe, shopkeeper Zhu fishes out a bundle of cloth and unwraps a precious amber-streaked crescent. "Rhino horn," he whispers. "Straight from Africa."

For centuries, China has mined the faraway continent for its treasures. Zheng He himself loaded his ships with ambergris, elephant tusk and rhino horn. Despite Kenya's shoot-to-kill order for wildlife poachers, much of the ivory and rhino horn leaves Africa by air from its capital, Nairobi, or by sea from the nation's largest port, Mombasa. As much as 40% of the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!