Vietnam not penalized for rhino horn trafficking

VietNamNet Bridge – The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Vietnam has denied the information that Vietnam was proposed for being imposed with trade embargo on rhinos.

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Earlier, at the 16th meeting of CITES members (COP 16) held in Bangkok, Thailand, from March 3 to 14, a number of non-governmental organizations provided evidences of trade and use of rhino horns in Vietnam. In particular, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) criticized Vietnam as the largest rhino horn consumption place, while the country did not take action to solve this problem. EIA also proposed CITES and the U.S. to take sanctions against Vietnam, including the ban of import-export of rhinos.

However, at a meeting last week, Mr. Do Quang Tung, Deputy Director of the CITES Vietnam, the chief of the Vietnamese delegation at the COP 16, affirmed that the above organization's information is not true.

"At the official meeting on the rhinoceros, the member countries and the CITES Secretariat recognized the efforts of Vietnam and made no formal recommendations or warnings about trade sanctions on Vietnam," Tung said.

"America did not mention the recommendations of the EIA for the U.S. embargo on Vietnam," Mr Tung said.

Also at the conference, the Vietnamese delegation released official information about Vietnam's efforts to protect rhinos, resolutely opposed the incorrect assessment of the EIA and some other non-governmental organizations. At the same time, Vietnam pointed out the difficulties in the implementation and pledged to continue implementing actions to fight illegal trade in rhino horn ands other wildlife.

"Vietnam is a country that detects the highest number of illegally transport cases of rhinos. From 2004 until now, 13 rhino trafficking cases were arrested, with a total of 150 kg of rhino horns, including two cases in early 2013," said Tung.

With that effort, the CITES Secretariat and the Conference highly appreciated the speech of Vietnam and pledged to seek financial support for the implementation of rhino protection in the country.

Responding to the information that Vietnamese people usually cut small pieces of rhino horns to cure cancer, Tung said that this is unlikely. He said of about 200,000 people with cancer in Vietnam, if all of them use a piece of rhino horn like that, the number of South African rhinos that  was shot last year - 6,500 heads, with around 3-4 tons of horns – is already more than enough for all of Vietnamese cancer patients.

On the other hand, Tung said, the price for 100 gram of rhino horn is, according to the information of several organizations, $50,000, it is very difficult for Vietnam to pay for a huge amount of rhinos horns.

Son Tung
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