Ms Edna Molewa, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, will next week sign a Memorandum of Understanding with her counterpart, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Dr Cao Duc Phat. The MoU between the two countries is on cooperation in the field of Biodiversity Conservation and Protection and will be signed in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The signing of the MoU signals another significant intervention in the bid to address the scourge of rhino poaching. This intervention on the international front is intended to promote cooperation between the two countries and compliance with CITES. The MoU will be addressing, in particular, the illegal trade in rhino horn that has seen a scourge in rhino poaching.
Government is convinced that for South Africa to effectively deal with the current scourge of poaching, and with illegal hunting largely driven by international demand for the rhino horn, these international engagements and agreements are crucial. The latest rhino poaching statistics indicate that a total of 598 rhinos have been lost to poaching since the beginning of this year, with the total number of arrests at 246. The Kruger National Park has lost 364 rhinos to poaching. KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the North West provinces continue to be the hardest hit by poachers, collectively accounting for the loss of 194 rhinos.
In September 2011, the governments of Vietnam and South Africa agreed on a process towards the finalisation of the MoU that will see the collaboration of natural resource management, wildlife protection and law enforcement.