Six more rhinos are due to be exported to Vietnam despite concerns raised about facilities they will be housed in. Picture: Armand Hough

Johannesburg - South African NGO Oscap (Outraged SA Citizens against Poaching), supported by the Species Survival Network, which represents more than 100 local and international NGOs, on Monday delivered a letter to the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa requesting she suspend the export of six rhino calves.

These rhino calves, which are being held under quarantine at Sondela Wildlife Centre, are destined for a zoo in Vietnam.

The letter requests Molewa to hand over copies of the documentation submitted in support of the export and asks the minister to suspend the export of the calves until the paperwork has been inspected.

In 2014, Molewa published a list of criteria to be met by facilities that are to receive live rhinos from South Africa.

Oscap has submitted PAIA (Public Access to Information Act) applications to Molewa’s department as well as to four provincial conservation departments to find out whether and how it was ascertained that these criteria had been met.

In addition, Cites obliges South Africa to export live rhinos only to “appropriate and acceptable destinations”.

Allison Thomson, a director of Oscap, said: “The long term well-being of the rhinos is of great concern to Oscap, as visitors to the Vietnamese facilities already housing rhinos from South Africa have reported that they are kept in very sub-standard conditions.”

The rhinos are reported to be housed in concrete pens and fed when zoo visitors arrive at their enclosures.

Recent reports suggest one of the zoos that received 14 rhinos from South Africa in December has lost more than 100 animals since it opened: some died during transportation and others were unable to adapt to their new environment.

Thomson said Oscap was opposed to international sales of South Africa’s rhinos, adding “but if they are to be exported, then let’s at least ensure that the exports comply with both local standards and Cites’ requirements”.

African News Agency