Vietnam, South Africa sign agreement to help curb rhino poaching
The Vietnamese and South African governments on Monday signed an agreement on the wildlife trade, a move hailed by conservationists as a "turning point in tackling rhino poaching crisis."
"South Africa and Vietnam have publicly signalled their intention to get tough on the criminal syndicates behind the rhino poaching spree," WWF-Greater Mekong Conservation Director Stuart Chapman said in a statement.
Although the agreement refers only in general terms to addressing illegal wildlife smuggling, "there are clear indications that rhino horn trafficking will be top of the new agenda on co-operation between the two nations", the WWF said.
"South Africa is looking forward to receiving the close co-operation from Vietnamese partners to stop the illegal trade of rhino horns from South Africa to Vietnam," Edna Molewa, South Africa's Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, said at the signing ceremony in Hanoi.
Vietnam's Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cao Duc Phat, said his ministry was submitting a decision on banning the import of rhino parts into the country this year.
Hundreds of rhinos are poached in South Africa every year, with figures rising 21.6 percent in 2011 up from the previous year.
Vietnam is believed to be the largest market for illegally sourced rhino horn, which some buyers believe can cure diseases.