Say No to Rhino Horn this Tet HolidayHanoi, 7 February 2013 - WWF and TRAFFIC commends the Hanoi People’s Committee for calling on Hanoi residents to not consumeor to give as gifts, products derived from endangered wildlife during the Lunar New Year.
The Hanoi People’s Committee along with a number of private enterprises made the call in responseto a recent letter issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) calling for no use of endangered wildlife products during the traditional Tet holiday when use of wildlife products tends to increase significantly. It also follows a recent Prime Ministerial decision banning the import and export of rhino horn.
“Tet is a time for families and friends to come together, it should not be about consuming wildlife products that lead directly to the demise of much loved species in Vietnam, and globally iconic species such as the rhino,” said Mr. Stuart Chapman, Interim Representative- WWF Greater Mekong.
The government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)with South Africa in Decemberaimed at bolstering law enforcement and tackling illegal wildlife trade including rhino horn trafficking. The MoU paves the way for improved intelligence information sharing and joint efforts by the two nations to crack down on the criminal syndicates behind the smuggling networks.
“Vietnam recognises its roles and responsibilities for implementation of all international commitments on environmental protection, including Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). The MOU with the government of South Africa on Biodiversity Conservation and Protection, the cooperation agreement on law enforcement for protecting wildlife species with the government of Indonesia signed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Decision issued by the Prime Minister of Vietnam on prohibition against the export, import, selling and buying of specimens of some wild animals listed under appendices of the Convention on International trade in Endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to strongly express Vietnam’s efforts in fighting the illegal buying, selling and using of wildlife species,” said Mr. Ha Cong Tuan, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Illegal wildlife trade has become an issue of global concern that is pushing many wildlife populations to the brink of extinction. Rhino poaching numbers in South Africa have surged from 13 in 2007, to 668 in 2012. Already 57 rhinos have been killed in South Africa since the start of 2013 with other African and Asian countries also experiencing a surge in rhino poaching.
The current poaching crisis for rhinos is driven by demand across Asia, principally Vietnam. A dramatic spike in demand for rhino horn is believed to be driven by myths related to its curative properties in regards to disease and illness, along with renewed interest in other non-traditional medicinal uses. Rhino horn remains on the Traditional Vietnamese Medicine schedule despite its sale being illegal.
“There are traditional medicines that have proven to be effective for treating a variety of ailments and symptoms and have saved millions of lives. Rhino horn is not one of them,” said Dr. Naomi Doak, Coordinator of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia–Greater Mekong Programme. “Despite the facts, widespread lies, myths and rumours are fuelling demand and use of rhino horn.”
“Tackling the illegal rhino horn trade needs support and action at the highest levels of government,” said Mr. Stuart Chapman,Interim Representative- WWF Greater Mekong. “We urge the President and Prime Minister to express their strong commitment to tackling the country’s illegal trade in, and consumption of, rhino horn, as part of efforts to boost biodiversity conservation and protection.”
In order to help stem the poaching crisis, and to strengthen, elevate and accelerate Vietnam’s efforts to address the country’s illegal trade in, and consumption of rhino horn, WWF and TRAFFIC have launched a national campaign against the illegal trade of rhino horn. The campaign is seeking better law enforcement, more effective deterrents against traders and sellers and a reduction in demand for rhino horn in Vietnam.