The Humane Society International is for the first time launching a major campaign to stop illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia, zeroing in on rhinoceros horns, which are sought after as purported cures for everything from hangovers to cancer to impotency.
The animal rights group is teaming up with the Vietnamese government to stop smuggling of rhino horns for such illegal purposes. Jointly, they are launching a public education campaign with tailored messages to buyers of rhino horn products.
Teresa Telecky, the director of the Wildlife Department of the Humane Society International, says most buyers of rhino horns in Vietnam are older women concerned about their family’s health. A game reserve in South Africa has injected a mixture of chemicals into rhino horns so that people risk becoming “seriously ill” if they consume them. That development will be part of the message for those women. Other buyers are wealthy Vietnamese who want the horns as a status symbol.
Ms.Telecky answered questions from The Wall Street Journal’s Vu Trong Khanh about how her group and the Vietnamese government are working together to try to reduce the illegal rhino-horn trade and what else is ahead as the Southeast Asian nation reports it is uncovering an increasing amount of illegal wild-animal smuggling. Edited excerpts follow.
WSJ: Can you talk about the situation of wildlife trafficking in Asia, and in Vietnam particularly?
Ms. Telecky: The global wildlife trade is massive, involving thousands of species and millions of individual animals—not to mention plants—annually, and valued in the billions of U.S. dollars. Most of the trade is legal and regulated under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). More....