SA & Vietnam to stop rhino poaching

Rhino. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Black Rhino Expansion Project it hoped a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and Vietnam could help stop rhino poaching.

The two countries are on the verge of signing a deal which will see the Asian country clamp down on the illegal trade of rhino horns.

It will also include bilateral co-operation in criminal investigations.

Project leader Dr Jacques Flamand said education is very important.

“We’ve tried for many years, and we’ve gotten nowhere and nothing that we’ve done so far has worked to protect our rhino from the illegal poaching.”

“The laws are in place, but very little has been done to prosecute people, from the Vietnamese side, particularly. I believe officials are involved.”

Wildlife monitoring group Traffic also added its voice of support to the memorandum.

Traffic released a new report on Monday which looked at the illegal trade of horn between the two countries. 

The report praised the work currently being done by law enforcement agencies, but said the crisis was far from over. 

Traffic spokesperson Tom Milliken said the only way to stop rhino poaching is with strong political will. 

“President Zuma needs to speak with his Vietnamese counterpart and really putting the rhino horn trade issue on the bilateral agenda.” 

Milliken said this is proving to be a completely unique battle, a perfect storm with wildlife officials involved, loopholes in hunting policies and new markets in Vietnam which fuel demand. 

“We are not close to ending this crisis yet. We are probably going to hit record numbers again this year.” 

So far, South African has lost almost 300 rhino during 2012 alone.

(Edited by Tamsin Wort & Zethu Zulu)