Rhino horn - Vietnam status symbol

2014-09-12 22:53
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Mbombela - Possession of a rhino horn is seen as a status symbol in Vietnam, environmental activist Quyen Vu said on Friday.

"In Vietnam, having a rhino horn in your possession is a status in society. People become wealthy through the illicit trade," Vu said at a media briefing in the Kruger National Park.

"Syndicates show off their ill-gotten gains through luxury cars, big houses, expensive clothes and so on."

Vu is founder and director of Environmental Education Vietnam, a non-governmental organisation that educates communities on environmental issues in the Asian country.

Vietnam is at the centre of the illicit rhino horn trade where it has been used for many centuries in the ancient practice of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) as a cure for various fevers.

Although the horn was still considered a high commodity in Vietnam, there was still no proof in Vietnam or anywhere else that the material from the horn could heal any disease, Vu said.

"The wealthy turn to rhino horn as they get desperate to help an ailing loved one. There is no evidence that it has healing properties, such as healing cancer. The horn is inaccessible and expensive to most people in Vietnam."

The Vietnamese government was working with NGOs, media and celebrities to send the message across.

Partnerships

"Government has improved policies and legislation to counter rhino horn smuggling. Stiffer sentences are imposed on smugglers."

A partnership has been formed with dealers of luxury cars, luxury hotels, restaurants and high end retailers to close down the illicit market.

Vu said: "We partnered with these businesses because people go buy expensive cars and other goods the moment they get rich...this partnership is meant to try to get closer to both the buyers and the smugglers."

Awareness campaigns against rhino horn trade and its use were conducted through television channels, radio shows and social media.

"Education is important and we should continue fighting this scourge... and never give up until the rhino is safe in its habitat," said Vu.

So far this year, more than 730 rhino have been killed for their horns by poachers. Over 1 000 were killed last year.

Read more on:    sanparks  |  vietnam  |  rhino poaching

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