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Legal rhino horn is not the cure: LessonS learned from the bear bile trade in Asia

Worldwide there is a high demand for wild animals and products made from them. Wild species are used as sources of a wide variety of goods, including medicine, food and used in fashion industry. The demand for wildlife in Traditional Asian Medicines (TAM) has been identified as a major driver of unsustainable and illegal trade of wildlife globally. The variety of wildlife products used in Asia is extensive and includes many species that have been designated as Endangered or threatened by the IUCN Red List, such as tiger, bear, pangolin and rhino.

Commercial farming and trade in wildlife has been promoted as a conservation strategy and a potential solution to poaching crisis. It based on a theory that the black markets for wildlife can be flooded with cheaper products from legal farmed sources, thus outcompeting the illegal market, leading to a decrease in poaching.

Fake rhino horns and bear gall-bladder for sale in Laos - WildAct

Fake rhino horns and bear gall-bladder for sale in Laos - WildAct

Here, I would like to use the bear bile farming in Asia as a case study for the argument against commercial farming of rhino and legalising the trade of rhino horn, as there are several similarities between these two wildlife products:

1. Both rhino horn and bear bile have long been used in the Asian traditional pharmacopoeia.

2. The extraction of bear bile and the harvest of rhino horn do not require the killing of the animals.

3. Before being commercially farmed for their parts, both species were poached in the wild and are facing extinction.

In South Africa, rhino horn was banned from the domestic trade in 2009 in order to protect wild populations from poaching. However, earlier this year, the South African government lifted the ban. Meanwhile, the international trade has been banned since 1977 and it remains the case. More than 10,000km to the East in Vietnam, a few months later, the Vietnamese government announced their commitment to close down bear bile farming completely.

Prior to the advent of commercial bear bile farming, the only way to obtained bear bile was to kill a wild bear and take out the gallbladder which contains the bile. However, in the 1970s, a technique was developed in Korea to extract bile from bears living in captivity and the techinque soon spread to China in 1980s and Vietnam in 1990s. This farming of bear bile were introduced as a means of reducing pressure on wild bear populations and also to meet the demand for bear bile. As bear bile was made legal, the number of bears being kept in China and Vietnam rapidly increased, to over 10,000 bears in the former and approximately 5000 bears in the latter.

A moon bear were kept in captivity for bear bile farming in Vietnam - WildAct

A moon bear were kept in captivity for bear bile farming in Vietnam - WildAct

The price for bear bile, indeed was reduced greatly due to the availability of farmed products. However, it was not good news for the bears. As farmed bear bile became popular and price dropped, poorer people with less in come were able to afford to have bear bile in their cupboard “just in case” if they needed it. In our recent survey with the youth of Vietnam in 2015, bear bile were still the most popular wildlife part used, even though it was banned by the government since 1992. Consumers of bear bile stated that they do not necessarily purchase bear bile to use immediately, but keep it at home in case of emergency (Report can be found here). This report stated that rhino horn was the least popular item among respondents, with the most frequent reasons stated were that it is illegal, too expensive and it is cruel to kill the rhino for its horn.

In order to increase the profitability of bear bile farming, the bear bile industry also creating new demand by making new non-traditional products by including bear bile in such products as eye drops, shampoo, soft drinks and even toothpaste. Needless to say, the demand for bear bile rapidly increased, leading to the reduction in wild bear populations, not only from countries whose bear bile farming were made legal, but also from the neighbouring countries such as Laos and Cambodia in order to supply the bear bile farming industry. This proves that once wildlife products are commercialised and brought into the “business world”, there will always be new products created to feed the demand, and new demand can always be created by businessmen in order to make more benefits. This pattern was already found with rhino horn: In 2016, a North American company, which will not be named here, claimed to create bioengineered rhino horns in order to flood the market in Asia. Even before the trade of 3D printed rhino horn were permitted, this company published their commercial advertisement on several social media sites.  Their advertisements were made in Vietnamese, claimed to use bioengineered rhino horn in beers, whitening cream for women and also medicines. Needless to say, traditionally the Vietnamese do not put rhino horn in neither beer nor whitening cream.

What is very dangerous about legalising the trade of wildlife products is that WE KNOW the consumers prefer to use wildlife products originating from the WILD, not from the FARM. I once interviewed a relative of a rhino horn consumer in Vietnam and she told me that she bought a piece of rhino horn a few years back for her mother, who was dying from last stage of cancer. The rhino horn did not work, and her mom past away a couple months after putting all her hope and life-savings into rhino horn. She then stated that maybe the rhino horn did not work, because “it was a fake horn”. It did not occur to her, that rhino horn did not save her mom because it actually does not have the power to cure cancer.

A report earlier this year claimed that consumers of rhino horn in Vietnam prefer to use horn of rhino that is harvested in a humane way (can be seen here). However, I would like to point out that this research was clearly designed in a favour of pro-traders: the research avoids using the words “wild” and “farmed” products but instead used “lethal” and “non-lethal”. There is much peer-reviewed research into consumers' preference of several wildlife products in Asia suggesting that there is a strong preference toward products coming from wild origin, as they believed them to have a stronger effective in curing disease, they are considered more potent and therefore more desirable (Can be seen here, here and here ).

Bear bile farming in Asia is dying out, not because farmed bear bile “flooded” the markets as it was set up for, but because consumers believe that bile from farmed bears is not effective. Therefore, wild bear bile was still in high demand, consumers were willing to pay a much higher price for it, and wild bear populations are continuing to decline.

What will happen to our rhino? - WildAct

What will happen to our rhino? - WildAct

Results from years of legalised bear bile farming and trade is the decline of wild bear populations all over Asia, and thousands of bears are still being kept in captivity in either legal or illegal farms throughout Vietnam and China. These bears are also not suitable to release back to the wild, due to serve physical health issues, and mentally traumatisation from years of being kept in tiny little cages. So, what can we learn from this painful lesson? Commercialising the trade and farming of wild animals, especially those that are endangered such as rhino do not work because:

1. Legalising rhino horn takes away the barrier that stop a group of people who do not consume rhino horn as they afraid of violating the law, thus creating a larger demand for rhino horns.

2. If the price of farmed rhino horn is – as many pro-traders claim -  lower than the price of horn from wild rhino, then it will fall into the same situation as the bear bile farming in Asia. People with lower income will be able to afford rhino horn and this will definitely create more demand for rhino horn consumption.

If the price of farmed rhino horn becomes higher than that of wild rhino due to funding needed to for protection of farmed rhino, protection of harvested horn stocks, veterinary care, food, shelter ect… then obviously rhino will still be poached in the wild, and this theory of saving rhino through farming does not work.

3. The demand cannot be “flooded”, as legalising and commercialising wildlife parts will create opportunity for business to create new products and new demands for them.

4. Wildlife consumers have a strong preference towards products come from wild animals that are living in the wild, not farmed wild animals.

5. Wildlife traders and farmers have a strong incentive to control the supply in order to maintain profitable trading values.

6. There is little understanding of the demand and current domestic markets in South Africa for rhino horn. Do Africans also use rhino horn for medicine or black magic?  If there is no demand for rhino horn within South Africa, then what is the meaning of legalising domestic trade for rhino horn? If the largest rhino horn farm in South Africa only allowed to trade rhino horn domestically, why is he advertised for this product online in both Vietnamese and Chinese? and why is non-resident of South Africa can also join the bidding?

7. There is an increase in rhino horn smuggling from Africa to Asia. Legalising the domestic trade will no doubt create more opportunity for smugglers to transport illegal rhino horn in and out of the country. It has been proven that permit documents are very easy to fake (read report here).

8. Rhino horn is not only being used as a symbol status in Asia, but also as medicine. It was reported that there is an increase of 50% annually in the Asian tourists visiting South Africa. Is enforcement in a good place to stop smuggling of rhino horn out of South Africa? And the sentimental question is: Are the South African government and private rhino farmers willing to take advantage of cancer patients to sell – and promote - fake medicine in order to line their own pockets?

9. Legalising domestic trade of rhino horn in South Africa not only undermines the work of reducing demand and education projects for rhino horn consumers in Asia but also posing a threat to the very few remaining Asian rhinos. The sway that the largest rhino farmer in S.A. has over the Department of Environmental Affairs is no doubt undermining South Africa’s reputation abroad.

10. The legal trade in any commodity that is of monetary value to someone has never prevented it from being stolen – or in this case poached. It is almost always cheaper to take something illegally than to purchase it legally, from a loaf of bread to a mobile phone to a Van Gogh. A legal supply of rhino horn from a farm in Klerksdorp will not stop the slaughter of rhinos in Kruger.

Illegal wildlife trade market in Durban, South Africa - WildAct

Illegal wildlife trade market in Durban, South Africa - WildAct

I also cannot stop worrying about the decision of legalising the domestic trade in South Africa, as this country is home for approximately 70% of white rhino and 40% of black rhino. Now that South Africa falls victim to the rhino horn trade, other African countries would start questioning “Why can South African make money from their rhino horn but we can’t?”.

30 years of bear bile farming in Asia has done nothing to reduce poaching of wild bears. How long must we allow this experiment in legal rhino horn trade last before we see the error of our ways?

For more information relating this article, please contact:

trang.nguyen@wildact-vn.org

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Smuggled ivory stash in Vietnam is "not from South Africa"

A massive shipment of ivory that was discovered in Vietnam this week, stashed among boxes of fruit, did not originate from South Africa, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs.

State media in Vietnam have reported that the 2.7 tons of tusks seized from a truck in the central Thanh Hoa province, originated from South Africa.

But Eleanor Momberg, a spokeswoman for the department, disputed this.

“The ivory did not originate from South Africa,” she said.

Daniel Willcox, of the elephants campaign at the Environmental Investigation Agency, said he was unsure what the claim was based on.

“The state authorities might have had sight of some sort of shipping documents but at this stage, it’s impossible to know for certain,” he said.

A report published last year by Save the Elephants on how Vietnam’s illegal ivory trade threatened Africa’s elephants, documented how its illicit trade was now one of the biggest in the world “with trucks smuggled into Vietnam, nearly all from Africa”.

Andrea Crosta, the co-founder of the non-profit Elephant Action League, said the Thanh Hoa seizure “looks like a lot of ivory, large pieces, months old, if not more.

“It was probably consolidated over many months, with ivory coming from different places

Angola is a concrete possibility, maybe Zambia or even further away,” said Crosta.

“You never know with these large seizures how the main trafficker organised the acquisition and consolidation of the cargo.”

Neil Greenwood, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s head of programmes and operations for southern Africa, said that trafficking of contraband was complex and was “dictated by the availability of routes and corruption.

“To move their contraband across international borders, traffickers need to find access points where the likelihood of detection is at its most vulnerable.

“So while the contraband might be sourced from a number of different locations (in the case of ivory poaching, a number of different protected areas) it’s then stockpiled and moved through these access points only when reasonably secure routes are found.

“Moving any contraband is a highly risky business so the fewer times it needs to be done to meet the consignment requirement, the better.

“South Africa and Mozambique are particularly vulnerable as they are major shipping countries where contraband may be concealed and hidden among legal trade commodities which are being legally exported.”

Trang Nguyen, of WildAct, a conservation charity in Hanoi, said her research on the illegal ivory trade in Cambodia and Vietnam with Fauna and Flora International had indicated there would be more seizures in countries neighbouring China.

“As the Chinese now ban the trade in ivory completely, many Chinese immigrants and tourists travel to countries with weak enforcement such as Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and set up their own businesses trading ivory openly.” - read the research here: http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/25149/chinese-visitors-fuel-kingdom---s-ivory-market/

Willcox said elephant poaching in the Kruger, which rose in 2015/2016, seemed to have slowed down now “or the drought is masking the number of illegal killings/poachings)”.

He pointed to the latest report on the 2016 trends in African elephant poaching, released in March by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants programme.

It noted the number of illegally killed elephants reported remained almost the same: 30 in 2015 and 46 in 2016.

The resulting proportion of illegally killed elephants’ value for Kruger declined from 0.41 to 0.2, the report stated.

“This may be explained by two consecutive years of below-average rainfall and potentially higher natural mortality rather than an actual decline in the poaching losses there,” said the report.

Source: http://www.iol.co.za/saturday-star/news/smuggled-ivory-stash-in-vietnam-not-from-sa-10303761

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RHINO HORN GRINDING PLATES FOR SALE IN HANOI, VIETNAM

Picture taken from our supporter Ha Pham. She visited the famous pottery village - Bát Tràng, only 13km Southeast of Hanoi centre and spotted a sign advertising for a special plate used only for grinding rhino horn.

Picture reads - for sale bamboos, rhino horn grinding plates, ceramic painting and ceramic pots

Picture reads - for sale bamboos, rhino horn grinding plates, ceramic painting and ceramic pots

 

As the government of Vietnam destroyed over 70kg of rhino horn and 2.2 kg of elephant ivory to show commitment to end wildlife crime, should authority also take action to put enforcement in places - where grinding plates are still openly advertise?

Picture provided by Ha Pham

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Tusk to tail: the other half of the trade

-          How much does this cost? – A European tourist standing next to me asked the shop-owner.

-          1980 Rand – the owner shouted out her answer.

-          That’s expensive! – said the tourist, her nose scrunched up.

-          Because it made from elephant tail hair, love.

Poaching has taken a heavy toll on elephant populations across Africa: in just three years, over 100,000 elephants have been killed by poachers. Almost 50% of the elephant population in Eastern Africa has gone, forever. In May 2015, the first elephant was killed in Kruger National Park, South Africa, due to poaching in the last 10 years. By the end of that year, 21 more had been killed. This number increased to 46 in 2016 (SANPark)

Based on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), African elephants are listed on Appendix I since 1989, meaning that the trade of their products is highly prohibited. However, the demand for elephant ivory from many countries in the world, including China, Hong Kong, America, Thailand and may other countries is the driving force behind the illegal trade and poaching of elephants. In order to support international conservation efforts, China – one of the largest markets for elephant ivory - has promised to shut down its trade in elephant ivory.

However, what about the open trade in other elephant parts such as the very popular jewellery made of elephant tail hairs?

In the busy shopping centre of Cape Town, I found no less than 1000 jewellery items made of elephant tail hairs, openly advertised and sold to curious tourists. These tail hairs are normally secured together with silver, gold, and sometime even precious stones. Rings, necklaces, bracelets, even earrings can be made from the hair of the elephants. You name the products; they will have it for you. The price increases depending on the size of the items, and what accompanies it.

Jewellery made from elephant tail hairs found in Cape Town shopping central

Jewellery made from elephant tail hairs found in Cape Town shopping central

Halfway across the Earth, in Cambodia, where I conducted a survey on the illegal trade of ivory in 2016, a huge amount of jewellery made from elephant products, such as ivory and elephant tail hair, were found too (Nguyen.2016). Similar to the case of the elephant ivory, the trader tends to tell me these parts are harvested from captive Asian elephants. However with international trade banned and only 71 captive elephants in the country, it is obvious that the amount of items found in the domestic market of Cambodia  by far exceeds what could be provided by captive elephants. One of the most expensive items found in Cambodia was a bracelet made of elephant ivory and elephant tail hair, decorated with gold. This item was advertised for 5000 USD. Not only openly for sale in the market, raw and products made from elephant ivory and tail hairs were also advertised on social media, such as Facebook, in Vietnam (Nguyen.2017). Each hair strand can be sold for 10 USD, a whole tail (as seen in the picture below), can be bought for 100 USD.

Elephant tails for sale on Vietnamese Facebook. Read our report for more details.

Elephant tails for sale on Vietnamese Facebook. Read our report for more details.

Currently, very little attention is given to the illegal trade in elephant tail hair. It is worth noting that most of the shops illegally trading elephant ivory are also openly selling elephant tail hairs and other wildlife products in Vietnam and Cambodia. There is also no domestic African elephant in Africa and the trade of any elephant parts is prohibited. One might argue that these elephant tail hairs are made from culled elephants; however South Africa  stopped this practice in 1994.

Tourism, particularly nature-based tourism, is an important sector of the African economy as it strives for sustainable development. It is crucial for the government of South Africa to protect species such as elephant from unsustainable exploitation. Tourists should be made aware of the illegal nature of the trade in elephant parts, and government and non-government organisations should take this trade more seriously, as it is very likely that products made from elephant tail hairs represent just the tips of the much larger iceberg.

For more information, please contact our director Trang Nguyen: trang.nguyen@wildact-vn.org

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New project: The impacts of Traditional Asian Medicines on the African wildlife

South Africa, 6th April 2016 - Our new project " The Impact of Traditional Asian Medicines on African Wildlife: The Role of East Asian Immigrants" is funded by the Rufford Foundation. The research will be carried out at several cities in South Africa, such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.

For thousands of years, Asian societies have treated illness and disease with plants, herbs and wild animal products. Although different countries in Asia developed their own way of treating illness from wildlife, these medical traditions are strongly influenced by the traditional medicine practices of China. For example, both Vietnam and China have an ancient history of using rhino horn, pangolin scales and tiger bone as traditional medicines to cure a wide range of illness. As the population of Asian rhino declined toward extinction, the suppliers of TAMs turned to Africa as a new source of rhino horn. New uses of rhino horns, such as in the treatment of cancer, is also believed to be one of the main factors contributing to the rise of rhino horn poaching and trafficking globally.

Pangolin scale found in a local market at Johannesburg

Pangolin scale found in a local market at Johannesburg

The demand for tiger bones is also soaring in South Africa. Two facilities in South Africa that claim to be involved with tiger conservation based in Free State are Tiger Canyons and Save China’s tiger. These facilities are thought to be involved in the trade of 11 tiger skeletons and in 2016, an investigation from Al Jazeera titled “The poachers pipeline” documented tiger bones being cooked into “tiger balm” – also known as “tiger cake” or “tiger jelly” (a residue boiled down from tiger bone) in South Africa to be exported and also used by Asian communities in South Africa. It is important to stress that, as tiger populations decline, African lions are being intentionally poached for TAMs. Their bones are being shipped legally to Asia as substitutes for tiger products, believed to also provide strength to the consumers. It is possible that lion bones is not only being consumed in Asia as TAMs, but is also consumed in Africa by Asian communities as medicine.

Currently Africa is considered as a “source” continent – providing wildlife parts, including a wide range of endangered wildlife such as tiger, lion, rhino and pangolin, to feed the demand of TAMs in Asia. However, with the growing economic ties between the Africa and Asia, as well as the increase in Asian immigrants in Africa, this continent might soon turn into an “end user” of wildlife parts for TAMs. Beyond direct threats, the conservation of these species are also hammered by limited knowledge of the illegal trade and consumption of their parts in South Africa through TAMs by East Asian immigrants, and whether or not this practice is being accepted by the local African. This issue must be addressed to conserve tigers, lions, pangolins and rhinos in the long-term.

To find out more about the project, please contact our director Trang Nguyen at:

trang.nguyen@wildact-vn.org

 

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Critically endangered species for sale online on Facebook in Vietnam

Hanoi, 17th November. At the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, the local organisation WildAct announced the results of their online market survey, focusing on Facebook in Vietnam. Products from protected species, such as tiger, rhino, elephant and pangolin are openly for sale on this number one social media platform in Vietnam.

The rapid spread of Internet use underpins a potential threat to endangered wildlife impacted by trade and demand for their products. The number of Internet users in Vietnam is approximately 50 million, while Internet shopping, including for certain wildlife products, is likewise growing year on year. Previous research showed that a wild array of endangered species and wildlife products were being sold in several Vietnamese online platforms, such as website, Facebook page and forum.

Tiger skin for sale on Facebook

Tiger skin for sale on Facebook

It has been reported that Facebook has 30 million monthly active users in Vietnam. WildAct conducted their survey focusing on Facebook during a 6-month period, from October 2015 – April 2016. Almost 2000 adverts and 3000 comments were analysed.

                                   

Research found that products of endangered and critically endangered species listed under the IUCN Redlist, such as rhino horn, pangolin scale, elephant ivory, bear bile and gallbladder, and Big Cat species (including tiger, leopard and clouded leopard) were advertised openly on Facebook. 38% of all advertisements found were elephant ivory products, whereas one out of every four account created primarily to sell elephant ivory also selling rhino horn.

Elephant ivory were also found on Facebook

Elephant ivory were also found on Facebook

Tiger bone, skin, teeth and claws were also advertised, together with clouded leopard, leopard and bears. It is important to note that 88% of the people who commented on these advertisements expressed an interest in purchasing advertised products, most of them are men aged from 25 – 40.

 

Trang Nguyen – WildAct founder and executive director said: "Two years ago I was working in collaboration with WildCRU – Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in Oxford, England and Fauna and Flora International Vietnam to put out camera traps across Vietnam, looking for the clouded leopard. After months of surveying, we didn't get any picture at all. Now I went on Facebook and I found their parts on sale".

Trang speaks to Brian about the illegal trade of bear parts online

Trang speaks to Brian about the illegal trade of bear parts online

 

Commenting on the selling of bear parts, such as gall, bile and paws, Brian Crudge – Research programme manager, Free the Bears said "Given that the rapid decline in the number of bears kept on farms in Vietnam, it is not surprising that bear products were found traded online. This highlights the on-going demand for bear parts in Vietnam and the continued threat to wild bears throughout the region".

 "We need to recognise that online trade of endangered species is a significant component of illegal wildlife trade and its in contravention of Vietnamese legislation and should be dealt with accordingly" – she added – "We urge Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take immediate action and collaborate with the Vietnamese government as well as NGOs working in Vietnam to tackle this illegal trade of wildlife".

 The conference attracted leaders and senior officers from all around the world to work together to tackle the illegal trade of wildlife. This morning, the Duke of Cambridge also paid a visit to emphasis the important of shutting down the trade.

 

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Conservation community calls on Vietnam to urgently act on its commitments to end illegal wildlife trade

16th November 2016, Hanoi – On the eve of the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, 13 organizations working in Vietnam to protect wildlife and combat wildlife crime have come together to call on the Government of Vietnam to ensure that its commitments to address illegal wildlife trade are carried through to substantive and concerted action on the ground.

The 13 organizations, including Animals Asia, Education for Nature Vietnam, Flora & Fauna International, Four Paws, Frankfurt Zoological Society, FREELAND, Free the Bears, GreenViet, TRAFFIC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, WildAct, Wildlife Conservation Society, and WWF-Vietnam, signed a joint statement committing to ongoing cooperation with each other and with the Government of Vietnam in efforts to address the poaching and trafficking of wildlife, wildlife rescue and welfare, strengthen policy and law enforcement, and implement behaviour change and education campaigns for wildlife protection.

 

Furthermore, the organizations are urging the Government of Vietnam to implement a number of specific and strategic measures to strengthen its immediate response to these issues.

 

“We recognize that Vietnam has already made many important national and international commitments and agreements to end illegal wildlife trade, but now it’s time to turn these commitments into real action to close down illegal wildlife markets and reduce consumer demand for these products,” said a spokesperson of the group of 13 organizations. “The world’s attention is on Vietnam, and this is a golden opportunity for Vietnam to show that it’s serious about combating wildlife crime.”

 

On November 17-18, the Government of Vietnam will host the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, the third in a series of global conferences that started with the London Conference in 2014, and the Kasane Conference in 2015. High-level representatives of more than 40 countries will descend on Hanoi, where they are slated to adopt a Hanoi Declaration that will include a roadmap to tangible and unified actions against illegal wildlife trade.

 

“International cooperation is crucial on this issue that spans almost every country and region across the world, but we also need to work together better within each country too,” said the spokesperson of the group of 13 organizations. “Bringing an end to illegal wildlife trade and improving wildlife protection will take time and require the combined experience, resources and skills of all of us, and that is why we stand together to encourage Vietnam to seriously follow through on its commitments. We’re here and we’re ready to support Vietnam to make a difference.”

The joint statement will be delivered to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Public Security, and the Office of the Prime Minister.

For more information, please contact:

 

Alegria Olmedo – Senior Project Officer WWF-Vietnam

alegria.olmedo@wwfgreatermekong.org

 

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. panda.org for news and information

 

About the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime, and is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. The UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime is a four-year programme working for and with the wildlife law enforcement community to ensure that wildlife crime, illegal logging, and related crimes are treated as serious transnational organized crimes. UNODC delivers specific technical assistance activities designed to strengthen the capacity of Member States to prevent, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate crimes against protected species of wild flora and fauna. For more information, please visit the UNODC website: www.unodc.org

About WildAct

WildAct is a conservation charity and non-governmental organisation based in Vietnam. Our work is dedicated to tackling the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife in Vietnam. We aim to achieve this through raising local people’s awareness and reducing demand for wildlife products by providing sound scientific information and education program designed for Vietnamese people. For more information please visit WildAct website: www.wildact-vn.org

 

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Dispelling the myth: Protecting people and rhinos P2

Dr. Thuan is preparing some Vietnamese Traditional Herbal Medicine for her patients

Dr. Thuan is preparing some Vietnamese Traditional Herbal Medicine for her patients

Let's hear what Thuan - a Vietnamese Traditional Medicine doctor said about wildlife consumption for medicinal purposes over her 30 years of working as a TM doctor:

"I have been working as a Traditional Medicine doctor for more than 30 years. I can see how wildlife reduced over my life time: when I started, there were many TM practitioners use wildlife products, such as pangolin scales or bear bile. But they are become rarer and rarer, harder to find and more expensive.

It is unnecessary because there are also many other alternative medicinal herbs can be used instead wild animal parts, not to mention that many animal parts are fault advertising for their effectiveness. I myself prefer to prescribe medicinal herbs to my patients. Medicinal herbs have been used in TM for very long time and many were proven by scientists on their effectiveness, and even used in Western medicine.

...I think it is important to maintain our traditional practice, but at the same time not to destruct our living environment. I'm fully supporting this project [Dispelling the myth: protecting rhinos and people -  https://goo.gl/sl8vZZ]

...Rhino horn is not magical medicine, and the rhinos are going to be extinct if we keep consuming their horns. It is for sure cannot cure cancer, that is a bad rumor and need to be dispelled".

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Our one year long project "Dispelling the myth: Protecting rhinos and people" has come to and end.

More than 12,000 educational materials were distributed through out Vietnam, with almost 60 hospitals and clinics, 500 doctors and 150 pharmacies were reached!!!

Almost all Traditional Medicine doctors who participated in our project comitted to discourage their patients to consum wildlife products!

Stay tuned for update on our final report!

Thank you for your support!

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Special thanks to the Lush Foundation and Rhino Remedy for financially sponsored this project.

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Dispelling the myth: Protecting human and rhinos ? p1

Some thoughts from a Vietnamese patients family member about the project:

"I learned something new today. I didn't know there are such thing as Zoonotic...what is it?

the doctor said they are disease that can be transmitted from wild animal to human. I know some domestic species can give their disease to human, but I didn't know wild animals can do that too. People always said wild animals are very strong, because they forage wildly in the forest. They should be tolerant to all the disease, shouldn't they?

... I never use things such as rhino horn or tiger balm. Those were too expensive. But sometimes we do eat wild meat, and we used to keep bear bile in the house.

I think I will have to be more careful with consuming wildlife products now. The doctor and pharmacist said it is better to use prescribed medicine with clear instruction rather than following folklore to treat illness. There are many sever diseases that can be transmitted from wild animals. I want to keep myself and my family healthy.

I don't think we will even consider using them anymore. It is scary".

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Our one year long project "Dispelling the myth: Protecting rhinos and people" has come to and end.

More than 12,000 educational materials were distributed through out Vietnam, with almost 60 hospitals and clinics, 500 doctors and 150 pharmacies were reached!!!

Almost all Traditional Medicine doctors who participated in our project comitted to discourage their patients to consum wildlife products!

Stay tuned for update on our final report!

Thank you for your support!

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Special thanks to the Lush Foundationand Rhino Remedy for financially sponsored this project.

WildAct

 

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Vietnam breast cancer awareness event

"Your mind is your medicine, not wildlife products"

 

That is a message that Action for Wildlife Organisation and WildAct brought together to the Vietnam breast cancer awareness event "Non Hong". We also giving some medicinal herbs that scientists have proven to be effective in treating several illness to the local people, as an alternative to those that are prefer traditional medicine than western treatment style. The "Non Hong" event aim to raise awareness among Vietnamese public to the breast cancer issue. It was held at Le Thi Rieng Park, Ho Chi Minh city on the 25th October. 

In Vietnam, wildlife products such as bear bile, rhino horn, ivory and tiger balm have long been used as an ingredient for traditional medicine. The demand for wildlife products is the largest threat to wildlife. According to a well-known scientist Nguyen Lan Dung, many Vietnamese willing to pay a large amount of money to purchase products made from endangered animals, such as rhino, tiger and many others in the hope of curing their illness. However, they not only losing a huge amount of money but some of the products purchased can be toxic to their own health. He also stated that even though he have been actively working with wildlife, he have never ever heard of the use of wildlife products, especially endangered species have any medicinal effects, either in Vietnam or across the world. The consumption of wildlife products lead to the extinction of many species, damaging our ecosystem and can also affecting our climate. 

More than 200 visitors visited our education stall and over 100 medicinal herbs were given to the public. Many Vietnamese people stated that they didn't know about the medicinal effects of these herb, and they are happy to use them instead of looking for bear bile or any other wildlife products. Leaflet with information on zoonotic disease transmitted from wild animals to human through consumption and trade routes were also given to the public. 

This is one of our activities included in the project "Dispelling the myth: Protecting people and rhinos" funded by the Lush Grant foundation, co-managed by WildAct Vietnam and RhiNOremedy UK.

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Media contacts:

WildAct Vietnam:
info@wildact-vn.org

WildAct Vietnam WildAct is a conservation charity and non-governmental organisation based in Vietnam. Our works dedicated to raise Vietnamese people awareness on conservation issue by providing information and education program for Vietnamese children.Visit our website:www.wildact-vn.org

“Lấy tinh thần làm thuốc, đừng ngộ nhận các sản phẩm từ động vật hoang dã”

 

Đó là thông điệp mà Tổ chức hành động vì động vật hoang dã (AWO) cùng Tổ chức WildAct  mang đến trong buổi trưng bày và phát tặng một số cây thuốc Nam có tác dụng thay thế các sản phẩm từ động vật hoang dã trong Ngày Hội Nón Hồng – nhằm kêu gọi cộng đồng nâng cao nhận thức phòng ngừa bệnh ung thư và san sẻ những mất mát cũng các bệnh nhân ung thư Vú được Mạng lưới Ung thư vú Việt Nam tổ chứctại công viên Lê Thị Riêng, Tp Hồ Chí Minhvào ngày 25/10 vừa qua. 

 

Tại Việt Nam, các sản phẩm từ động vật hoang dã như mật gấu, sừng tê giác, cao hổ, ngà voi được sử dụng như một loại thuốc y học cổ truyền để điều trị các bệnh ung thư, xương khớp… Nhu cầu này của con người đang là mối đe doạ lớn nhất đến sự tuyệt chủng của các loài động vật hoang dã tại Việt Nam. Theo những chia sẻ của GS.TS. Nguyễn Lân Dũng, phó chủ nhiệm Hội đồng Tư vấn về khoa học – giáo dục Uỷ ban MTTQ Việt Nam với báo Đồng Nai: việc nhiều gia đình bỏ ra số tiền lớn để mua các sản phẩm từ động vật hoang dã như cao hổ, sừng tê giác, mật gấu để chữa bệnh nhưng thực tế không ít gia đình đã tiền mất, tật vẫn mang. Theo như kinh nghiệm nhiều năm nghiên cứu về sinh vật của ông, ông chưa từng nghe nói dung các loại động vật hoang dã quý hiếm trên sẽ chữa được bệnh ung thư hay các bệnh nan ý khác mà còn có nguy cơ nguy hiểm đến tính mạng người sử dụng. Hơn nữa, việc sủ dụng các sản phẩm từ động vật hoang dã này dẫn đến sự mất dần các loài vật này trong tự nhiên, mất chuỗi xích trong đa dạng sinh học, gây ảnh hưởng lớn đến môi trường và gây ra những thiệt hại khó lường đến khí hậu. (Nguồn: Không dùng động vật hoang dã để chữa bệnh, báo Đồng Nai)

Buổi trưng bày đã thu hút hơn 200 lượt khách tham quan và tìm hiểu, tặng hơn 100 cây thuốc Nam đến cộng đồng. Hơn nữa, buổi trưng bày cũng đã nhận được rất nhiều sự quan tâm, ủng hộ và đóng góp củamọi người cho các hoạt động kêu gọi chung tay bảo tồn các loài động vật hoang dã đang bị đe dọa. Theo như chia sẻ từ những người tham quan, họ chưa được biết đến những cây thuốc Nam này và tác dụng của nó trong việc điều trị bệnh cũng như một số tác dụng có thể thay thế các sản phẩm từ động vât hoang dã mà lại dễ trồng.

 

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Hope - White rhino survivor made it through the third vital procedure

On the 8th of June 2015 “Hope”, the rhino Survivor, underwent her third procedure to repair the catastrophic damage done to her by poachers who left her for dead. Hope, the four year old white rhino, who has become the international symbol for the rhino crisis, was treated by Saving the Survivors, a team of vets dedicated to saving the victims of poaching.

The operation which took two hours and twenty minutes, was another procedure in a series of ground breaking treatments undertaken by Saving the Survivors. Dr Gerhard Steenkamp, from the University of Pretoria and co-founder of Saving the Survivors explains “Our first procedure was on the 18th of May to repair as much of the wound as we could. Our priority was to assess the extent of the damage to Hope’s face and if she could in fact, be saved. We have treated many victims of poaching and through our experience we were confident that Hope could survive these horrific injuries inflicted on her by poachers.”  

Vào ngày 8 tháng 6 năm 2015, Hope - chú tê giác trắng đã vượt qua lần trị liệu thứ ba để hồi phục lại sau khi bị những kẻ săn trộm chặt mất sừng. Chú tê giác trắng bốn tuổi này đã trở thành biểu tượng sống còn của loài tê giác trong thời gian khủng hoảng do nạn săn trộm ngày một tăng cao như hiện nay. Chú tê giác này đang được chữa chạy bởi tổ chức Saving the survivors - một đội ngũ bác sĩ thú y giàu kinh nghiệm luôn đặt nhiệm vụ cứu giúp những nạn nhân của nạn săn trộm lên hàng đầu.

               Cuộc phẫu thuật lần này kéo dài hai tiếng hai mươi phút, với sự tham gia của toàn thể đội ngũ bác sĩ thú y giỏi nhất ở Nam Phi. Tiến sĩ Gerhard Steenkamp từ trường Đại Học Pretoria và cũng là một trong những nhà sáng lập của tổ chức Saving the Survivors giải thích: "Cuộc phẫu thuật đầu tiên diễn ra vào ngày 18 tháng 5 và chúng tôi đã cố gắng chữa trị vết thương và tái tạo lại hình dáng phần mũi của tê giác. Lúc đó ưu tiên hàng đầu của chúng tôi là chạy chữa vết thương và cứu sống Hope. Chúng tôi đã từng chữa chạy cho rất nhiều nạn nhân của những vụ săn trộm như thế này, và qua kinh nghiệm thì chúng tôi tự tin cho rằng Hope có khả năng sống sót cao, mặc dù vết thương rất nặng". 

“The previous procedure involved removing the first face shield which had come loose after she rubbed her face up against the boma (enclosure). Leaving this wound exposed has inhibited the healing process by allowing these tissues to dry out and so we took the decision to place a new shield over the wound to keep it moist and assist with the repair process,” explains Dr Steenkamp.

The biggest challenge currently is keeping Hope’s shield in place when most of the bone required for attachment points has been removed by the poachers. Dr Johan Marais, who is also from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort, and a co-founder of Saving the Survivors said, “we took radiographs of the damaged area to ascertain if there were anchor points and enough bone integrity to attach the shield. The bone has to be healthy enough to be able to drill the shield into place, it’s the only way that we are able to make sure it stays on. In the absence of sufficient bone, we sutured the bottom part of the shield on which should keep it in place for longer. This is to give the damaged areas a better chance to recover. Her procedure took longer than we would have liked so we have now made a mould of the shield so next time it is ready to be attached which should cut down procedure time by 45 minutes.”

"Cuộc phẫu thuật thứ hai bao gồm làm sạch vết thương và thay miếng bảo vệ đầu tiên, giờ đã trở nên cũ và bong ra vì Hope cọ đầu vào những thanh trụ trong chuồng. Vết thương hở sẽ làm chậm quá trình hồi phục, vì vậy mà chúng tôi quyết định thay miếng bảo vệ mới để đảm bảo độ ẩm cần thiết".

               Thách thức lớn nhất của chúng tôi hiện nay đó là giữ cho miếng bảo vệ được cố định. Điều này là rất khó khi mà phần xương mũi của chú tê giác đã bị chặt rời bởi những kẻ săn trộm. Bác sĩ Johan Marais làm việc tại Viện Thú Y, Onderstepoort và cũng là người sáng lập của tổ chức Saving the Survivors cho hay "Chúng tôi đã chụp x-quang phần bị tổn thương để xác định liệu có thể đóng đinh cố định miếng bảo vệ lên phần xương mũi của chú tê giác hay không. Phần xương này phải đủ khỏe để có thể khoan lỗ đinh mà không bị gãy hay vỡ. Đó là cách tốt nhất để giữ phần lá chắn bảo vệ lên vết thương trên mặt Hope. Trong trường hợp xương đã bị vỡ và không đủ để có thể làm theo phương pháp này, chúng tôi sẽ phải khâu phần dưới của miếng bảo vệ lên da của chú tê giác để đảm bảo sự cố định của miếng bảo vệ. Đây là điều cần thiết vì nó sẽ giữ độ ẩm cần thiết cho vết thương, cũng như tránh những tổn thương không cần thiết khi Hope di chuyển. Chúng tôi hi vọng có thể làm một miếng khuôn bảo vệ để có thể thay thế loại lá chắn bảo vệ mà chúng tôi đang dùng, và khi khuôn này được hoàn thành thì nó có thể rút ngắn quá trình phẫu thuật xuống 45 phút."

“Whilst we remain positive that she will recover, we have to be realistic in our expectations of the timeframes required for Hope’s healing process. It is going to be a long journey and she has to be closely monitored at all times especially in these early stages, for any complications. From our experience we anticipate it will take at least a year to a year and a half before a full recovery can be expected. What Hope is teaching us now is invaluable. We can draw from her treatment when treating other victims of poaching with severe facial wounds. We must be patient and give her body time to heal. We are providing her with the best medical care we have and making her as comfortable as possible,” says Marais.

 

Dr Will Fowlds who is also the Medivet Rhino Project co-ordinator for the Wilderness Foundation, watched over Hope’s anaesthetic on this occasion and had the following to say, “Through the work that Saving the Survivors does, this rhino, Hope, is giving victims of poaching a voice which cries out to the world for our help. She is becoming a living symbol of this poaching crisis, and an inspirational example of the fight for survival against seemingly insurmountable odds. Her struggle to claim back her life and her dignity must become our fight to change human behaviour and restore value and respect and care for all living things.”

               Today’s procedure and her journey ahead demands a huge team effort and our thanks go out to every member of the public who has been moved to share Hope’s story. Without your voices her struggle would be a silent one. Our thanks must go to The Wilderness Foundation, Medivet UK, Dr Johan Joubert and his team on Shamwari Game Reserve, including his incredible ground crew, led by Bruce Main, who have provided exceptional support through all our procedures with Hope, and for dnata4good for their ongoing support of STS.  Where there is life there is Hope. For more information visit www.savingthesurvivors.co.za

ENDS

For more information please contact Suzanne Boswell Rudham from Saving the Survivors scb@iafrica.com or +2783 680 9605

Bác sĩ Will Fowlds hiện đang là đồng quản lý của dự án Medivet Rhino tại tổ chức Wilderness Foundation, người chịu trách nhiệm chính cho việc gây mê và gây tê cho Hope cũng cho hay: "Thông qua những công việc mà Saving the Surviors đang làm, họ đã giúp nạn nhân của những vụ săn trộm, như chú tê giác này, được cất tiếng khóc cho đồng loại mà cả thế giới có thể lắng nghe. Hope là biểu tượng của sự sống mạnh mẽ, dù là nạn nhân của nạn săn trộm tàn ác. Sự đau đớn mà Hope đang đấu tranh để giành lấy sự sống phải được tất cả chúng ta công nhận, thấu hiểu để có thể thay đổi hành vi và thái độ mà con người chúng ta đang đối xử với loài tê giác, cũng như với tất cả các sinh vật sống khác".

               Sự thành công của cuộc phẫu thuật ngày hôm nay là kết quả của sự cố gắng của toàn bộ đội ngũ bác sĩ thú y, và tất cả mọi người - những người đã yêu mến và chia sẻ câu chuyện của Hope. Không có tiếng nói của các bạn, sự đau đớn để giành giật lại sự sống của Hope sẽ không được biết đến. Chúng tôi xin cảm ơn tổ chức Wilderness Foundation, Medivet UK, bác sỹ Johan Joubert và đội bác sĩ ở Khu bảo tồn Shamwari, và Bruce Main - người đã nhiệt tình giúp đỡ và ủng hộ chúng tôi trong suốt quá trình điều trị của Hope từ khi bắt đầu cho đến nay, cũng như dnata4good vì đã ủng hộ chúng tôi. Hãy nhớ rằng, ở nơi nào có sự sống, ở đó có HI VỌNG (Hope nghĩa là hi vọng, cũng là tên của chú tê giác này).

               Bạn có thể tìm hiểu thêm và Saving the survivors tại website sau: www.savingthesurvivors.co.za

Nếu bạn có bất kỳ câu hỏi gì liên quan đến phương pháp trị liệu cho Hope, hoặc lời nhắn nhủ, cảm ơn đến các bác sĩ đang chữa trị cho Hope, bạn có thể comment dưới đây, hoặc gửi email về địa chỉ: info@wildact-vn.org

 

 

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World Wildlife Day - Operation Game Change launching event in Hanoi

HANOI, March 3, 2015 (World Wildlife Day) – Nguyen Ha Nhung and Nguyen Tuan Nam, two students who won the 1st prize in the Rhino Art Contest 2014, which was organized by WildAct and other organizations, have been invited to attend the launching of “Operation Game Change” to tackle wildlife crime in Hanoi.

This special event “OGC” launching has brought together governments, NGOs, students and celebrities from Vietnam, USA, and South Africa to raise public awareness and spark a reduction in demand for illegal rhino horns.

In this picture, seated from left to right: Steven Galster - Freeland Foundation Director, Cao Duc Phat - Minister of the Agricultural Development, Theodore G. Osius - USA Ambassador in Vietnam, H. E. Bui Cach Tuyen - Vice Minister of the Natural Resources and Environment and celebrity Vu Anh Tuan.

In this picture, seated from left to right: Steven Galster - Freeland Foundation Director, Cao Duc Phat - Minister of the Agricultural Development, Theodore G. Osius - USA Ambassador in Vietnam, H. E. Bui Cach Tuyen - Vice Minister of the Natural Resources and Environment and celebrity Vu Anh Tuan.

During the launching event, Nhung and Nam have been awarded by Deputy Chief of Mission Claire Pierangelo for their contribution in raising awareness in Vietnam on the rhino crisis, especially after their attendance to the World Youth Rhino Summit last year ( Read more here: http://goo.gl/GwCqYb).

Nam has represented for the six students who went to South Africa to attend the World Youth Summit 2014 to make a short presentation about what he has witnessed and learnt (Vietnamese delegates profile: http://goo.gl/MGhA65). He stated:

“Honestly, what impressed me the most were watching the anti-poaching demonstration and shaking hand with the renowned conservationist Dr. Ian Player, who has successfully saved the white rhinos from the brink of extinction a couple of decades ago. But currently, the rhinos once again are on the edge of extinction mainly because of the Vietnamese people’s ignorance. Dr. Ian Player still hoped and has passed the responsibility of saving rhinos for the next generations. I truly feel sorry and ashamed of the rhino consumption issue in my country.”

Nam brought what he had seen in South Africa to his many friends at school, and they all became “shocked and angry, as well as shameful and sorry”. They all feel the urge of doing something - anything they can to save the rhino. They have made a huge poster to be displayed at their school board to spread the message of the rhino crisis. They are also working with WildAct Vietnam on the campaign called “Parents, please listen to me. Stop using rhino horns!!” In this campaign, parents and students are encouraged to sign the pledge “Never To Use Rhino Horns” and took pictures for an online parade to raise Vietnamese people’s awareness about rhino horns.

Before finishing his talk, Nam asked all the audiences to stand up and read the declaration below loudly with him:

I - Tuan Nam - and the Vietnamese youth promise to the conservationists and to the rangers who are currently working on the front line and are risking their lives to protect the wildlife that we will try our best to do everything we can to protect the rhino from extinction. We and our families promise that we will never use rhino horns or any illegal wildlife products!!”

After his presentation, Nam and Nhung have received many compliments and attentions from the press and media as their stories and activities can be turned into an inspiration for the youth of Vietnam.

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Media contacts:

WildAct Vietnam: Nguyen Thuc Linh, +84 966 818 264, linh.nguyen@wildact-vn.org

WildAct Vietnam We are new local conservation NGO based in Vietnam, established in 2013. Our works dedicated to raise Vietnamese people awareness on conservation issue by providing information and education program for Vietnamese children. Visit our website:www.wildact-vn.org

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