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November 12, 2016

Viet Nam destroys more than two tons of confiscated ivory & rhino horn ahead of the Ha Noi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Destruction sends strong message that wildlife trafficking must be stopped

Humane Society International

  • Iris Ho/HSI

  • Iris Ho/HSI

  • Iris Ho/HSI

  • Iris Ho/HSI

  • Iris Ho/HSI

  • Iris Ho/HSI

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With elephants and rhinoceroses facing an increasing poaching crisis, Viet Nam today destroyed 2,177.5 kg of elephant ivory, 70.1 kg of rhinoceros horns, together with a number of specimens from wild tiger and bear, that were confiscated from the illegal trade. The destroyed ivory and horn - estimated to be worth more than USD 7 million - came from the slaughter of an estimated 330 African elephants and 23 rhinos.

Viet Nam, together with 20 other countries have also crushed or burned their seized ivory and rhino horn, sending a clear message to consumers and wildlife criminals that they will not tolerate poaching and trafficking that threaten to fuel transnational crime and cause the extinction of these iconic species.

The event took place ahead of the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade on November 17/18 to be attended by His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Conference participants will call for tangible and unified action against illegal wildlife trade."

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Ms. Ha Thi Tuyet Nga, director of the CITES Management Authority of Viet Nam said: “Elephants are closely tied to certain communities in Viet Nam, and Viet Nam abhors the poaching and trafficking that is driving these beloved animals to extinction. We hope that today’s destruction event will convince citizens in Viet Nam and around the world to stop buying ivory and rhino horn and instead lend their voices to the call to protect elephants and rhinoceroses in the wild.”

John E. Scanlon, Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), said: "The destruction of confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn today in Viet Nam is taking place just one month after the game-changing CITES CoP17 and right before the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade. It serves to raise local, national and global awareness about the devastating impacts of illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn and of the growing determination of Viet Nam and clear commitment of the global community to put an end to it. The world hailed the bold decisions adopted at CoP17. It is now time for equally bold concrete actions to implement them."

HSI has been working with the government of Viet Nam since 2013 on a national, government-led campaign to reduce demand for rhino horn in the country. The multi-faceted campaign has reached an estimated 34 million people—approximately one third of the national population. According to national poll results, over the three years of the campaign, the percent of people who believe that rhino horn has medical value, and those who use and buy rhino horn, decreased significantly.

Teresa Telecky, Ph.D., director of the wildlife department for HSI, said: “Elephants and rhinos are dying at an alarming rate across Africa to feed demand for their tusks. We are immensely proud to have supported Viet Nam’s first ever destruction of confiscated ivory and rhino horn, and hope that this will help to bring the plight of these iconic animals to the public’s attention and discourage them from buying ivory and rhino horn. The global community must come together to show that the world values living rhinos and elephants, not only their horns and tusks.”

Additional NGO statements available here.

Facts:

  • Viet Nam has now joined 20 countries on four continents that have destroyed their seized ivory and rhino horn stockpiles, with 26 destruction events taking place since 2011. More than 200 tons of seized ivory and rhino horns have been crushed and/or burned to date. These destructions are a high-profile response by the concerned countries and demonstrates their commitment to combat wildlife trafficking. 
  • The African elephant is facing an unprecedented poaching and trafficking threat. Between 2010 and 2012, an estimated 100,000 elephants were killed illegally to meet the global demand for ivory. Forest elephants in Central Africa have experienced a 65 percent reduction in their populations, with imminent extirpation if the poaching rate persists. In September 2016, the Great Elephant Census, the first pan-African aerial survey of savanna elephants in decades, revealed a disturbing 30 percent decline of the species since 2007.  
  • With only about 29,000 rhinos of five species remaining in the wild, and poaching of these iconic animals for their horns continuing to escalate, rhinos are facing a crisis. Over the past decade, poachers killed more than 6,000 rhinos across Africa, with more than 1,300 poached in 2015 alone. And the problem is spreading, evidenced by the emergence of new poaching “hotspots” where poachers did not previously target rhinos.
  • HSI recently opened an office in Hanoi to continue work on wildlife and other animal protection issues in the country.

Media contacts:

CITES Management Authority of Vietnam, Vietnam: Nguyen Anh Tuan, Official, anhtuan@kiemlam.org.vn  +84 3734 9930
HSI (United Kingdom): Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org+44 (0)7989 972 423
HSI - Raúl Arce-Contreras, +1 301.721.6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org 

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