Vietnam to bust rhino horm myth
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Parliament – Vietnamese deputy prime minister Hoàng Trung Hái on Tuesday pledged to continue stepping up efforts to crack down on the illicit trade in rhino horn as he met with South African deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in Cape Town.
The two men discussed, among others, bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries, as well as the illicit trade in rhino horn which has led to record numbers of rhino being poached in South Africa over the past few years.
Vietnam is one of the destination countries for the poached products – where its believed among many Vietnamese to have medicinal properties – a claim that’s been disproven by scientists.
Among the measures being implemented, according to Hái , is a nationwide awareness campaign to bust the myth.
“In terms of raising awareness of the poeople on the use of wildlife products, especially the rhino horns, this has been a deep-rooted mindset of the Vietnamese people and it’s about their understanding that the use of those products will help increase their vitality or cure some disease – some wrong impressions – and we also try to make them understand that those are just the myths…,” Hái told journalists at media briefing at Tuynhuys following his discussions with Ramaphosa.
“It’s not only the use of the rhino horns but we also try and make them understand the use of other products from other animals like tigers or bears is just myth.”
South Africa and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding in 2012 in a bid to step up efforts to curb illict rhino horn trade.
Since then, Hái said they have made a number of arrests and returned samples of the products seized by Vietnamese authorities to South Africa.
But, he said, Vietnam was not only a destination for poachers.
“That illicit trade – Vietnam is not only the destination, but we are also the transit hub, and therefore we have put in place many strong measures to punish or sanction those who break the laws,” said Hái .
Hái and Ramaphosa also discussed trade opportunities between the two countries.
Bilateral trade between Vietnam and South Africa reached 13.4 billion in 2014, more than tripling since 2011 when trade stood at R3.7 billion.
Ramaphosa said they were hoping to soon double the 2014 figures.
“From this visit will flow a number of opportunities for investment, for trade, and for further development in a number of areas,” said Ramaphosa.
South Africa had its eyes set on exporting agricultural products, especially beef to Vietnam.
Vietnamese companies were in turn looking at investment opportunities is telecommunications in South Africa as well as fish processing.
“It is a relationship that is pregnant with alot of opportunities and possibilities,” said Ramaphosa.