HCM CITY — Rhinos are being driven to extinction due to the demand for their horns and Viet Nam is considered the main market for them, experts have said.
Nearly 28,000 rhinos are left in the wild, with two of the five species in Africa and the remaining in Asia, according to Humane Society International (HIS).
Last year more than 1,000 rhinos died at the hands of poachers in South Africa, which is home to the world’s largest rhino population.
More than two rhinos are killed every day for their horns, many of which end up in Asia.
“If we don’t do something to stop the demand then it is really going to wipe out all five species of rhinos,” Teresa M. Telecky, director of HIS’s wildlife department, said.
“We have been working with the Viet Nam’s government for the past year to figure out strategies to reduce demand for rhinos in Viet Nam,” she told a forum on the engagement and contribution of social organisations in reducing demand for rhino horns in the country held last Friday in HCM City.
Her organisation is engaging all stakeholders like women’s associations, university students, children, businesses and social organisations in an effort to change people’s behavior.
“There is no scientific evidence that rhino horns can do anything to cure diseases such as cancer,” she said.
Rhino horns were made of keratin, the same protein substance found in human finger nails and hair, she said.
In attempts to protect rhinos from poaching, some were being treated with chemicals that were harmful to human health when ingested, she added.
Do Quang Tung, director of the Viet Nam CITES Management Authority, said: “Widening the message about reducing demand for rhino horn is very crucial for rhino protection. This is an urgent issue for the global community to address.”
The Viet Nam CITES Management Authority hopes that co-operation with the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations will help carry the message about protecting wildlife, particularly endangered species such as rhinos and elephants, contributing to effective enforcement of CITES in Viet Nam.
The activities are being conducted as part of a three-year campaign starting in 2013 by the Viet Nam CITES Management Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and HIS to reduce demand for rhino horns in the country.