A pivotal moment in efforts to tackle the current rhino poaching crisis took place today as the governments of South Africa and Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve co-operation between the two states on biodiversity conservation and protection including tackling illegal wildlife trafficking.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by H.E. Edna Molewa, Minister for the South African Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and H.E. Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam during a visit by Minister Molewa to Viet Nam.
The main elements of co-operation outlined in the MoU include the field of biodiversity management, conservation, protection, law enforcement, compliance with CITES and other relevant legislation and Conventions. Based on equality and mutual benefit it comes into force on the date of signature and notes specifically that illegal wildlife trafficking remains a global challenge.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, H.E. Edna Molewa said: “South Africa is looking forward to receiving the close co-operation from Vietnamese partners to stop the illegal trade of rhino horns from South Africa to Viet Nam."
H.E. Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam also recognised the importance of co-operation between the two countries, stating that: "Fighting against crime on wildlife regulations especially on the rare, precious and endangered species including rhinos and its derivatives are always of concern to the Vietnam government.”
He stressed: “The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in co-operation with related ministries and agencies, are submitting the Prime Minister to issue a Decision on banning the import of all rhino specimens to Viet Nam in 2012.”
Although the MoU between South Africa and Viet Nam refers only in general terms to addressing illegal wildlife smuggling, there are clear indications that rhino horn trafficking will be top of the new agenda on co-operation between the two nations.
“WWF and TRAFFIC welcome the new agreement, which marks a turning point in efforts to protect Africa’s rhinos and look forward to seeing action being undertaken by both countries to end the current rhino poaching crisis,” said Stuart Chapman, WWF-Greater Mekong Conservation Director.
“South Africa and Viet Nam have publicly signalled their intention to get tough on the criminal syndicates behind the rhino poaching spree,” said Chapman. More....