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'Education may end rhino poaching'

Some organisations believe education may be an effective tool in dealing with rhino poaching.

Russell, a Belgian shepherd dog, is the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve's newest weapon against rhino poachers. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - Vietnam and South Africa are on the verge of signing an important deal that may help reduce both rhino poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn.

On Saturday, Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim met with his Vietnamese counterpart.

At least 300 rhino have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of 2012.

Some Asian countries believe rhino horn can cure certain illnesses and this belief has resulted in the increase in rhino poaching cases.

Dr Jacques Flamand from the WWF Black Rhino Expansion Project believes education is key.

"We're dealing with traditions that are thousands of years old and it's very difficult to change mindsets. Education may help, I certainly hope it will. Nothing we've done so far has managed to change their minds."

The memorandum of understanding would encompass bilateral cooperation in criminal investigations.

Flamand said it will be difficult to stem demand.

"The laws are in place on both sides, we just need to ensure they are enforced."

The government has implemented several programmes to prevent rhino poaching, but nothing seems to help.