Vietnam needs to cooperate with South Africa to stop illegal trade in rhino horn as the number of the animals poached in South Africa is on course to reach a record, the African country’s Department of Environmental Affairs said.
“We can only end poaching and smuggling if it is addressed along the entire trade chain,” Mavuso Msimang, Rhino Issue Manager for the department said in a report released today. “We hope South Africa and Vietnam can actively collaborate.”
South Africa, home to more than 90 percent of the world’s rhinos, in March asked the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to conduct inspections and verify that the rhino trophies exported from South Africa to Vietnam are still in the possession of the hunters. There has been growing demand for rhino horns in Vietnam, where they are ground and used for their supposed medicinal properties.
So far this year 281 rhinos have been poached in South Africa with TRAFFIC, a Cambridge, England-based wildlife monitoring organization, predicting a record total of 515 deaths this year. Last year a 448 were poached, a record at that time.
The report released today by TRAFFIC calls for Vietnam to “review and strengthen legislation and penalties concerning illegal rhino horn trade,” and to “employ effective law enforcement strategies in the market place.”
Of the 43 arrests of Asian nationals for rhino crimes in South Africa, 24 have been Vietnamese, TRAFFIC said, without specifying over what period the arrests took place.
“Ultimately the only long-term solution to stamping out rhino poaching in Africa and Asia lies in curbing demand for horn,” Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC, said in an e-mailed statement. “The fact that the Vietnamese government has not played a greater role in ensuring such an outcome is problematic, but presents an opportunity for decisive action.”
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