(Updates with China, Thailand engagement in third paragraph.)
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa and Vietnam have agreed to cooperate to fight rhinoceros poaching as illegal killings of the endangered animals in South Africa for their horns threatens to break last year’s record.
The countries will collaborate on wildlife trade matters, information sharing and prosecution and law enforcement procedures, representatives from the two countries told reporters in Johannesburg today.
“The next step is to engage China and Thailand,” said Fundisile Mketeni, the deputy director general of bio-diversity and conservation for South Africa.
South Africa met with Vietnam to address growing demand for rhino horns in Asia, where horns are used for supposed medicinal properties, including as a purported cure for cancer. A record 333 rhinos were killed last year in South Africa, home to 93 percent, or about 21,000, of Africa’s rhino population. So far this year 309 have been killed.
Rhino poaching needs to be stopped at the source as well as trade stopped at the end user, said Kien Nguyen, Counselor at the Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa. Vietnam “needs to get rid of the wrong understanding that Rhino horn can cure cancer,” he said.
Africa’s rhino population may start declining in the next two years should poaching continue at its current rate, Mike Knight, chairman of a group set up by the Southern African Development Community to monitor rhino populations, said yesterday.
Vietnam is “well aware of the importance of bio-diversity and conservation, especially with endangered species,” Ha Cong Tuan, Vietnam’s deputy director of forestry administration said. Talks held in South Africa this week may lead to public awareness campaigns in Vietnam for specific species such as Rhino, he said.
The number of rhinos killed last year in South Africa tripled from 2009. Demand for horns from Vietnam is encouraging poaching, Tom Milliken, head of elephant and rhino campaigns, at TRAFFIC, a Cambridge, U.K.-based wildlife monitoring organization, said in Johannesburg yesterday.
--Editors: Antony Sguazzin, Vernon Wessels
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