The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vietnam a Stage for Rhino Horn Trafficking

I've been reading up on the trade in Rhino horns and was surprised to find Vietnam is right in the middle of it. In fact, Vietnam’s trade in Rhino horns has become the top threat to world Rhino populations. Rhinos worldwide are killed for their horns, which are ground into powder and used in "traditional medicine" in Vietnam and China, though the ingredient has no clinically-proven health benefits. A wildlife “farm” was recently discovered in northern Nghe An Province, with many African mammals of questionable origin (as well as numerous poached tiger carcasses), including a pair of African Rhinos. Meanwhile, Rhino poaching in far away South Africa has already doubled in 2010 compared to 2009, with many of the smuggled horns destined for Hanoi. On March 29, a Vietnamese man was arrested in South Africa for trying to smuggle 7 Rhino horns back to Vietnam. Several horns were taken from animals recently killed. On June 11, three Vietnamese citizens were then arrested in South Africa for attempting to smuggle 25 rhino horns back to Vietnam. Back in Vietnam, one of the last remaining Javan Rhinos in Cat Tien National Park (neighboring Lam Dong Province) was recently killed by poachers. Vietnam must take immediate action to put a stop to the domestic trade in Rhino horns—otherwise it runs the risk of earning the stigma of being a key cause of the extinction of remaining Rhino species worldwide. 

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