By Schalk Mouton
Though South Africa yesterday signed a detailed implementation plan with the Vietnamese government to stop rhino poaching, one of the major loopholes in the illegal rhino horn trade remains unblocked.
Xai Savang - a company identified as a major distributor of rhino horn, lion bones and pangolins to Vietnam, among others - is based in Laos. Neither South Africa nor Vietnam has any jurisdiction over the country.
South African Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan yesterday signed into action a plan to implement a memorandum of understanding between the two countries, signed off in December.
The plan is based on 26 "definable actions", to which deadlines have been set, and is aimed at strengthening communication and information sharing, harmonising legislation, as well as improving law enforcement in wildlife trafficking.
The MoU will, however, be of little use against Xai Savang, the company for which Thai citizen Chumlong Lemtongthai sourced rhino horn and lion bones.
Lemtongthai was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment in November after pleading guilty to paying prostitutes to pose as hunters, and exporting rhino horns to Southeast Asia.
Vietnam committed to providing South Africa with a list of all registered hunters in Vietnam. More....