Bilateral Collaboration Between South Africa And Viet Nam To Address Rhinoceros Horn Trade

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    Bilateral Collaboration Between South Africa And Viet Nam To Address Rhinoceros Horn Trade

    Source: TRAFFIC Bulletin, Vol. 23/2, 2011

    The escalating death rate of rhino in South Africa are due in large part to the growing demand for ground rhinoceros horn in Asia. As traditional medicine, it is believed to cure a range of ailments, with recent, unfounded claims that it can cure cancer.

    One country in particular that has emerged as a main driver of the international illegal trade in rhinoceroses is Viet Nam, as increasing wealth has corresponded with an increasing appetite for expensive products like rhinoceros horn.

    In order to address the growing illegal rhinoceros horn trade between Viet Nam and South Africa, TRAFFIC organized and participated in a mission to Viet Nam in October 2010 to facilitate bilateral talks among officials in both countries. Between 18 and 22 October, five delegates from the South Africa National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit met government officials in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, including Customs, Environmental Police, INTERPOL, and the Association for Traditional Medicine, among others. Discussions focused on increasing understanding of the trade and strengthening enforcement.

    Both parties agreed to develop a Memorandum of Understanding which will form the basis for collaborative law enforcement action in the future. It is anticipated that this document will be ready to sign when the Vietnamese delegation visits South Africa later in 2011. This is an important first step and will formalize the relationship for working together to combat the illegal trade in rhino horn.

    The South African delegation also promised a donation of equipment to Viet Nam to help track horns in the country that have been legally obtained from trophy hunts. While trophy hunting of White Rhinoceroses Ceratotherium simum is permitted in South Africa under strict regulations, the lack of a system to register and track privately-owned horns in Viet Nam is allowing them to enter commercial trade illegally.

    The visit was hosted by Viet Nam’s CITES Management Authority with support from TRAFFIC, and made possible through the financial assistance of WWF-Germany, WWF African Rhino Program and the US Government, which pledged to support such an initiative at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in March 2010.

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