By Sue Blaine
Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi and Vietnam’s Deputy Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Ha Cong Tuan, on Monday signed an "action plan" aimed primarily at addressing rhino poaching in South Africa.
Conservationists see Vietnam as integral to curbing the poaching that feeds the illegal horn trade. The country, a known destination for much of the illegal rhino horn poached in South Africa, posted the highest wildlife crime score in the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature’s 2012 Wildlife Crime Scorecard report.
The action plan is rooted in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries in December last year. The action plan outlines actions up to 2017, and provides for continual review.
Rhino horn, prized in Vietnam as a "pick-me-up", cancer cure, and even an aphrodisiac, has been reported to fetch about $60,000/kg in the southeast Asia country. But Mr Tuan said at the Pretoria signing ceremony that the Vietnamese government’s latest information showed the price had dropped from $500/100g at the start of the year to $100/100g. He attributed this to the government’s efforts to educate Vietnamese citizens about the negative effects of rhino poaching.
It is agreed South Africa is not winning the war on rhino poaching. So far this year the country has lost at least 273 rhinos to poachers. The country lost a record 633 rhinos between January 1 and December 19 last year. The previous record, for 2011, was 448.
Poaching began to escalate in 2008, which some have linked to changes in hunting regulations.
Mr Tuan said the action plan covered 26 "detailed actions", but neither the South African nor the Vietnamese delegations gave further details or deadlines to reporters in response to their questions.
They did, however, say a review of South African and Vietnamese legislation was the first port of call, and it was hoped this would be finalised within a year. More....