|Point to make: Vietnamese-American Hollywood actress Maggie Q addresses a conference calling for an end to the use of rhino horns. — Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
HA NOI (VNS)— A campaign calling to end the use of rhino horn to cure cancer brought together a Vietnamese-American Hollywood actress, a Vietnamese-Australian singer-songwriter, a representative from the Customs Department and the chairman of Viet Nam's Cancer Society.
The campaign organisers, a mix of local and international preservation groups, held a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday.
"Viet Nam can help save the rhinos," said Maggie Q, who has starred in Nikita and Mission Impossible. She flew to Viet Nam with her mother, who is from Ninh Binh Province.
Outspoken on the subject of animal rights, Maggie Q has been a vegetarian for many years. She told the conference that having "overcome many adversities, Viet Nam can take the leading role and show the world it can end the rhino horn trade".
In 2007, 13 rhinos were killed. But that number soared last year to 1,215 rhinos.
"If the killing can't be stopped, there will be no more rhinos in the wild in 10 years," WildAid Director John Baker said.
The Government was committed to stopping wildlife trafficking, especially in rhino horn, ivory and tiger products, said Le Duc Binh of the Customs Department.
In a project supported by WildAid, Working Dogs for Conservation started training two dogs in the US to join the Hai Phong Port Customs Office in September.
Change, a Vietnamese NGO; WildAid, an international anti-wildlife-trafficking organisation; and the African Wildlife Foundation teamed up to convince the people of Viet Nam that rhino horn cannot cure cancer.
"In our survey last year, 75 per cent of the people said they believed rhino horns have some sort of medicinal use and they vaguely knew where they had the information from," said Change Director Hong Minh Hong.
One in every three people interviewed believed rhino horn could help cure cancer. One third did not know that the rhino horns must be cut when they are still alive.
Viet Nam Cancer Society Chairman Nguyen Chan Hung said there is no scientific evidence that rhino horn cures cancer.
Then what they are made of? One would want to know.
"Of keratine, just like our nails," Hong said. "We launched a campaign asking participants to paint their nails in an artistic way to raise people's awareness and demystify the unfounded belief that rhino horns are the wonder medication."
Like in any large event in Viet Nam, the meeting couldn't end without a singer coming out on stage. Vietnamese-Australian singer-songwriter Thanh Bui covered The Beatles' Help, calling on people in Viet Nam not to seek out and buy rhino horns.
Viet Nam News is one of more than 20 media outlets that support the campaign. — VNS