|A record 1,004 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa in 2013.
HA NOI (VNS)— A leader of a campaign to stop global trade in ivory from elephants and rhinocerous has praised the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, for speaking out on the issue.
Elisabeth McLellan, co-director of the World Wildlife Fund International's Global Wildlife Trade Campaign, described the commitment as a turning point in the fight.
She was speaking at the first World Wildlife Day in Ha Noi yesterday.
"The Prime Minister is sending a clear signal to his Government and citizens that the illegal wildlife trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and other products will not be tolerated."
Last month, the Prime Minister issued a directive that the fight against the trade be made at all levels and across all ministries.
He was directing his words particularly at those trading wildlife products across regional and world borders.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ha Cong Tuan, said Viet Nam "had expressed its willingness to co-operate with all Convention."
Conservation and animal protection organisations working in Viet Nam have asked the public to say "no" to wildlife products, in particular to support efforts to tackle the escalating demand for rhino horn.
Earlier, at a high-level conference in London, Viet Nam and 45 other countries and 10 intergovernmental organisations agreed to tackle the illegal wildlife trade that is killing thousands of elephants, rhinos and other endangered species each year.
A campaign asking people to Stop Using Rhino Horn was launched here yesterday. It calls on all Vietnamese to refuse to buy the product, thus increasing protection for the threatened rhinocerous of Africa (the last Vietnamese rhinocerous was shot and sold four years ago).
The new campaign is part of an international campaign organised by WildAid, the African Wildlife Foundation and the Vietnamese non-governmental organisation CHANGE.
Vietnamese TV, radio stations and news outlets have offered free broadcasts and advertisements worth more than US$1million to spread the message that: "When the buying stops, so does the killing."
Experts claim Viet Nam is one of the largest markets for rhino horn due to an ignorant belief by sexually deficient men that it can make them virile - and to those who wrongly believe it can cure cancer.
At the launching event, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said the Government was committed to protecting wildlife through educating the public and strengthening the legal framework.
Tuan said the illegal use and trading of rhino horns and other endangered species had had negative effects on the image of Viet Nam.
According to WildAid, the Stop Using Rhino Horn campaign focuses on the world's two largest markets for consuming rhino horn: Viet Nam and China.
Patrick Bergin, African Wildlife Foundation CEO, said that the last rhinoceros in Viet Nam had been killed by poachers and its horn taken.
"We need the people of Viet Nam to ensure Africa's rhinos don't suffer the same fate as Viet Nam's rhinos by saying "no" to rhino horn before it's too late," Bergin said.
A record 1,004 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa in 2013. — VNS