Pretoria — South Africa and Vietnam have signed an action plan to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Biodiversity Conservation and Protection.
Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi and Socialist Republic of Vietnam Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ha Cong Tuan, represented the two countries.
The MoU was originally signed by the two countries in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2012. The Implementation Plan, effective until 2017, gives further impetus to the fight against wildlife crimes, particularly rhino poaching.
According to Mabudafhasi, the plan is reviewable during, and at the end of the said period.
Signing the plan, Mabadafhasi said the objectives of the MoU included promoting cooperation in the field of biodiversity management, conservation and protection. It is also expected to assist in curbing the scourge of rhino poaching, as it seeks to promote cooperation in law enforcement, compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other relevant legislation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
"The signing today of the action plan is the culmination of intensive negotiations and discussions between the two governments. It aims to put into operation the agreements defined in the signed MoU," she said.
In his response, Ha Cong Tuan said the Vietnamese government was committed to the fight against rhino poaching.
"Action will be taken against people found using rhino horns," he said.
The signing of the MoU is the direct result of cooperation and continued negotiations following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and the Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Dr Cao Duc Phat, in Vietnam.
The implementation plan will see the development of joint legislative efforts to conserve biodiversity, build capacity and promote the participation of international organisations and NGOs in the process.
It also includes strengthening cooperation through exchange of information, best practice and research, technology use, transfer and development, natural resource management, wildlife trade and protected areas management.
It also endorses the undertaking of collaborative projects to improve on the conservation of biodiversity and protection of species.
In addition, the two countries will, in the next six months, share information on each country's legislation in regards to the management of sport hunting for trophies of rhino and other wildlife, with the aim of improving the management of imports of hunted specimens to Vietnam.