Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

21 April 2014

South Africa: The Sweet Sound of Saving Rhinos - With Song

analysis

In the scramble to save our rhinos, what generally comes to mind is a mix of camouflage-clad soldiers, high-powered rifles, tracker dogs and deadly force against ruthless poachers with bullets, machetes and no pity. That's been the response so far and it's not working. Each year the death toll rises and last year it exceeded 1,000 hacked-off horns and rotting carcases. By the end of 2014 it could be worse. If rhinos are to survive, a new plan is urgently required - and one might just be forming.

That plan may be in the hands of a talented duo: a rare Vietnamese soprano and the young wunderkind at her side. Here's why: Most poached rhino horn ends up in Vietnam, a country of 90-million people. Among the elite who can afford it, gifting medically useless rhino keratin is a status issue and the mythology is that it cures a raft of illnesses and impotence. Reducing rhino poaching from the supply side merely increases the horn's value and status. The only lasting way to curb the killing is to convince Vietnamese not to buy it.

That's where songstress Thu Minh and singer-songwriter Thanh Bui come in. Minh is...

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