29 September 2011

South Africa: Govt Wants to Curb Rhino Horn Poaching

Photo: International Rhino Foundation
Removing the horn of a rhino to make it less appealing to poachers.

South Africa and Vietnam have launched talks toward an agreement to curb rhino poaching.

South Africa lost 333 rhinos to poaching last year. The crime has soared in recent years driven by booming demand in Asia for rhino horn.

The talks that started in Pretoria this week aim to produce a memorandum of understanding between Vietnam and South Africa.

An increase in the price of rhino horn has led to another bloody year for the animals, with 309 poached in South Africa so far in 2011.

Rhino horn is used as an aphrodisiac in Asia and is mistakenly believed to cure cancer. A single rhino horn fetches half a million dollars on the Asian market.

Nguyen Trung Kien, a counsellor at the Vietnamese embassy in Pretoria, told a briefing his government understands the need to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity.

The authorities also need to get rid of the misapprehension that rhino horn can cure cancer.

South African police and parks officials say they are fighting organised poaching syndicates.

Officials from South Africa's environment ministry and Vietnam's forestry administration give no time line for the final document which will be a wide-ranging agreement, including conservation, law enforcement, intelligence, prosecution and monitoring of legal hunts.

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