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September 20, 2013

Vietnamese Children Celebrate World Rhino Day

Humane Society International

  • Vietnamese schoolchildren are learning about rhino preservation through “I’m a Little Rhino,” a book written by HSI. Viet Nam Administration of Forestry

  • The education campaign will work with key stakeholders to develop and implement demand reduction strategies within their communities. Viet Nam Administration of Forestry

In celebration of World Rhino Day (22 Sept.) and in time for Vietnam’s mid-Autumn festival, hundreds of Vietnamese schoolchildren are learning about endangered rhinos. “I’m a Little Rhino,” a book written for Vietnamese children by Humane Society International, educates children about rhinos, the poaching threat and the need to stop rhino horn consumption to save rhinos from extinction. Children received the book as part of HSI’s work with the government of Vietnam to reduce demand for rhino horn.

Four hundred copies of the book were distributed to children at the mid-Autumn Festival organised by the Youth Union of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Another 700 copies have been given to children at Viet Bun Kindergarten School in Hai Ba Trung district and children at Le Quy Don primary school in My Dinh district in Hanoi.

Many poached rhino horns end up in Asia, including Vietnam. Last month, the Vietnam Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Management Authority and HSI announced a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing demand for rhino horn in Vietnam.

Do Quang Tung, director of Vietnam CITES Management Authority, said: “When we educate children, we also educate their parents and other family members. When we reach hundreds of children, we reach thousands of adults.”

Teresa M. Telecky, director of wildlife for HSI said: “Humane Society International is honored to join the government of Vietnam in celebrating World Rhino Day by encouraging Vietnamese children to learn about and cherish rhinos. By stopping demand for rhino horn we will save rhinos from extinction so that our children and future generations will be able to live in a world with abundant wildlife.”

Myths about the curative properties of rhino horn abound. Some people believe it is a cure for cancer or a fever reducer, and some people take it as an antidote to the ill effects of drinking too much alcohol. Others value the substance as a high-end gift or status symbol. However, studies have shown that rhino horn has no medicinal properties and is only composed of keratin. Furthermore, in attempts to thwart poaching, some rhino horn is being treated with chemicals harmful to human health.

The campaign will work with key stakeholders such as women’s groups, business leaders, students and traditional and Western medical practitioners to develop and implement demand reduction strategies within their communities.

The CITES Management Authority and HSI are planning a series of rhino-related events over the coming months.

Facts:

So far this year more than 618 rhinos have died at the hands of poachers in South Africa.

A resurgence in poaching is devastating wild populations of rhinos in Asia and Africa and shows no signs of abating. Moreover, in the last few years, many hundreds of horns -- derived from rhinos legally shot by Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese so-called ‘trophy hunters’ taking advantage of weak controls over trophy hunting in South Africa -- are believed to have entered Asia’s thriving illegal markets.

South Africa spends many millions of dollars annually trying to stop poaching. More poachers are being arrested than ever before. Still, illegal poaching intensifies, driven by demand in Asia and the high price rhino horn fetches.

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Basu, +1 (240-753-4875), rbasu@humanesociety.org     

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — on the Web at hsi.org.

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