By Vu Trong Khanh
Vietnam has launched a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing consumer demand for rhinoceros horns for use in hangover cures and in other Eastern medicines. The country has a ban on the use of rhinoceros horns for use in Eastern medicines. In the Eastern medicine tradition, the horns have been seen to be antidote for everything from cancer to fevers. But testing conducted by researchers at Hoffmann-LaRoche in 1983 and by Zoological Society of London in 2008 showed that rhino horns contain no medical properties.
Vietnam has busted 13 rhino horn trafficking rings since 2008, seizing a total of 121.5 kilograms of rhino horns, state media reported Wednesday, citing data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs. According to Vietnam’s penal code, anyone convicted of smuggling banned goods valued at VND1 billion ($47,620) or more is punishable by life imprisonment.
The horns are largely smuggled in from South Africa, where poachers kill rhinos for their horns and other valued body parts. Limited white rhino hunting is allowed in South Africa, and hunters with proper documentation can keep horns as trophies in Vietnam.
“Reducing demand for rhino horns in Vietnam will cut off a marketplace for the criminal networks that run the illegal trade, and this is an essential part of the solution to save rhino lives,” said Teresa Telecky, the director of the Wildlife Department of the Humane Society International (HSI).
William Fowlds, a South African wildlife veterinarian who has treated the wounds of rhinos whose horns have been hacked from their faces, said in a statement released by HSI, “From a distance of thousands of miles, the suffering of rhinos in my country may not register with people who use rhino horn in East and Southeast Asia. I’m here to remind people that rhino horns arriving in Vietnam have been brutally hacked from the faces of animals that are often still alive.” More....