Steve Dahl, 51 years old and Haley Dahl, 46 years old, from Eshowe town, South Africa visited Vietnam from 28th December 2014 until 6th January 2015. The Dahl family started the Cycling for rhinos event, with support from the local NGO WildAct.
Rhino is one of the famous Big Five in Africa, and is facing extinction due to illegal poaching to satisfy the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China. In Vietnam, Rhino horn is increasingly used as a status symbol amongst the wealthy elite, in business deals and social gatherings, where rhino horn is ground to a powder, mixed with water and drunk. It is also being used for non-traditional purposes such as a miracle cancer cure (it is used in tandem with chemotherapy, where the rhino horn is believed to minimise the harmful effects of the other treatments) and a body detoxifier following excessive consumption of alcohol or rich food.
Haley Dahl stated: "We have a strong passion for wildlife and nature. Myself and my husband often visiting national parks and natural reserve in South Africa to see our amazing wildlife and we feel extremely happy. However, recently the rhinos are facing extinction due to illegal poaching. As a South African citizen, we feel extremely painful. In fact, scientists have prove that rhino horn is made up of keratin, the same subsistence of human fingernails and hairs. We should do everything we can to raise awareness in consumer countries, such as Vietnam. Rhino horn is not medicine, and it cannot cure any disease".
uring their time in Vietnam, Haley and Steven cycled around Da Nang city, and follow the coastline to Hoi An to raise awareness, with 60 Vietnamese students who are studying in Da Nang. The trip is co-organised by WildAct, CouchSurfing DaNang and the Vietnamese youth. Their adventure was recorded by the Vietnam National Television (VTV) and broadcast nationally.
"Cycling for rhinos" not just raising awareness to the local of Vietnam through distributing materials, posters and banners, but through a series of activity with the Vietnamese participants. 60 local students were divided into five groups, each groups have to cycled to a certain place in the city and worked on several challenges. Some were fun challenges, such as counting the coconuts at Cua Dai beach, free hugs at Hoi An, making phoenix out of palm leaves. Some were more challenging, with questions on their knowledge on the local biodiversity, as well as on the African rhinos.
The students also have a great chance to listen to Haley and Steven speak on the African rhinos, the lives of people in South Africa, and the African rhinos ecology. They were also able to ask many questions related to illegal poaching and illegal trading of the rhino horns. The last activity were organised by WildAct, where the students were divided again into 5 groups, and act as the African rangers, local people, CITES people, the government, the traders and the consumer group. This activity aimed to evoke the students knowledge on the issue, and help them to have a deeper understanding of the illegal trade.
n the last cycling day, the participants were able to join a Rhino Quest, where they were asked several questions related to the rhinos ecology, rhino crisis and the illegal trade and consumption of rhino horns. The quest section was able WildAct to choose the winner group, who were able to answer correctly 6 out o 7 questions, and they were given a rhino key charm for their well performance.
We hope that in the future, we will be able to organise more activity like this to our local youth!!!
WildAct Vietnam: Nguyen Thuc Linh, +84 966 818 264, firstname.lastname@example.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