Viet­nam makes a state­ment about il­le­gal ivory

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

VIET­NAM de­stroyed a huge stock­pile of ivory and rhino horn over the week­end while urg­ing the pub­lic to stop con­sum­ing il­le­gal wildlife prod­ucts driv­ing sev­eral species to­wards ex­tinc­tion.

The ivory and rhino horn trade is of­fi­cially banned in Viet­nam, but its use in tra­di­tional medicine and for dec­o­ra­tion re­mains widespread, es­pe­cially among the com­mu­nist coun­try’s grow­ing elite.

It is also a pop­u­lar tran­sit point for African ivory and rhino horn des­tined for neigh­bour­ing China, the main mar­ket for prod­ucts fu­elling the il­licit and lu­cra­tive trade.

More than two tonnes of ivory and 70 kilo­grams (154 pounds) of rhino horn were crushed and burned on the out­skirts of Hanoi as armed guards pro­tected the more than 30 crates of horns, tusks and bones be­ing de­stroyed.

“The govern­ment is com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing the il­le­gal wildlife trade and an­other mes­sage is that the govern­ment and Viet­namese peo­ple are not al­lowed to use the wildlife prod­ucts that come from il­le­gal trade,” said Vuong Tien Manh, deputy di­rec­tor of the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Ra­pa­cious ap­petites for horns and tusks in parts of Asia have af­fected ele­phant and rhino pop­u­la­tions in much of Africa, where poach­ing is ram­pant.

“Ele­phants are dis­ap­pear­ing in cer­tain ar­eas and rhi­nos have al­most dis­ap­peared, so it is im­por­tant to show the will­ing­ness of the whole world to fight against poach­ing,” Mozam­bique’s am­bas­sador to Viet­nam Ga­maliel Mun­guambe told AFP at the event.

Con­ser­va­tion­ists have urged Viet­nam’s govern­ment to crack down on smug­glers who fa­cil­i­tate the trade.

“Viet­nam is do­ing so much in terms of ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic, try­ing to re­duce de­mand, in­creas­ing the num­ber of seizures – it’s a lot of pos­i­tive news here, but there are some holes,” said Teresa Telecky, Di­rec­tor of Wildlife at Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional.

She urged the govern­ment to in­crease DNA sam­pling of ivory and rhino horn to track where the prod­ucts were com­ing from and cut off sup­ply chains.

The event on Novem­ber 12 came ahead of a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional wildlife con­fer­ence in Hanoi open­ing Novem­ber 17 that will be at­tended by Bri­tain’s Prince William, who has cham­pi­oned an­i­mal con­ser­va­tion.

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