Ha Noi, Viet Nam, Monday 10 December 2012
The governments of South Africa and Vietnam have signed a crucial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed to improve co-operation between the two countries on biodiversity conservation and protection, including tackling the illegal wildlife trade. The MoU is an important step towards tackling the illegal trade in rhino horn.
The MoU was signed by Ms Edna Molewa, Minister for the South African Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, and Dr Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam, during a visit by Minister Molewa to Vietnam.
The MoU identifies seven areas as priority areas of cooperation, which include biodiversity management, conservation and protection, compliance with CITES and other relevant internationally binding conventions and wildlife trade.
With over 618 rhinos killed in South Africa so far this year, the MoU is hoped to mark a pivotal moment in the international war against rhino poaching, and is the first official pact signed by both countries. Over recent years Vietnam has been identified as a major consumer of rhino horn, where users believe it can treat a variety of ailments from fever to cancer.
Speaking at the signing Molewa said
”The continued slaughter of South Africa’s national treasure, the rhino, is a cause for immense concern”
”We believe that this latest development at an international level is crucial for South Africa to effectively deal with the current scourge of poaching, and with illegal hunting largely driven by the international demand for the rhino horn.”
Although the MoU refers to the illegal wildlife trade in general terms, it is clear that the trafficking of rhino horn will be top of the agenda. Each nation will appoint a co-ordinator to help implement the agreement, which will remain in force for five years.
For more information on the MoU, please click here for a press release from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs
Photo credit Steve & Ann Toon