Rhinos: From South Africa to Vietnam — via Thailand?

Is a “rhino horn farming” scheme developing in Vietnam?

South African game farmers and reserve owners may be utilizing Thailand as a transit point so that rhino exports to Vietnam can continue without scrutiny.

According to a paper trail provided to Annamiticus, a CITES permit application to export a white rhino to Thailand was filed with the Limpopo Province CITES and Permit Management office, dated 10 April 2012.

The name of the importer listed on the CITES permit application is “Bangkok Bird Park Breeding & Research Centre (2000)” in Thailand, and the exporter is listed as “Mystic Monkeys & Feathers Wild Animal Park” in South Africa. It is suspected at the time of writing that this rhino arrived in Bangkok on August 3rd and continued to Ho Chi Minh City the following day.

Meanwhile, a Thai Cargo air waybill dated 19 July 2012 shows (at least one and possibly three) rhinos sent from Johannesburg to Ho Chi Minh City via Bangkok.

The shipper’s name is listed as “Bester Birds & Animals Zoo Park CC”; the veterinarian listed in the handling information section of the waybill is perhaps coincidentally the same name as the veterinarian mentioned in this controversial rhino tragedy; and the receiving information says “Vinh Phu-CMT Joint Stock Corporation” in Binh Thanh district, Ho Chi Minh City.

An investigative source noted recently that rhinos were expected to arrive in Vietnam from South Africa, and there is concern that a “rhino horn farming” scheme may be developing.


Image © iStockphoto.com

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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.

4 thoughts on “Rhinos: From South Africa to Vietnam — via Thailand?”

  1. Rhinos exported from South Africa to “approved & appropriate ” destinations MAY NOT BE RE-EXPORTED!! It is against the rules & regulations of CITES. The CITES definition of “Approved & Appropriate Destination” FORBIDS this. See the Definition at: http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/11/doc/26.pdf
    These loopholes must be closed down! How? All Rhinos should be on CITES Appendix I. Please help RHINO SOS to lobby all CITES representatives around the world to achieve this.

  2. Rhishja if you have copies of the CITES export permit and the waybills please can you email them to me.

    We have spoken to the owner of Mystic Birds and she has told us that she never exported any Rhino and Mike Bester from Bester Birds has confirmed that this is incorrect – how can the CITES docs have incorrect information on them? Have you found out any info about the the Vietnamese importer Vinh Puh? Or the final destination of the Rhino?

  3. I think that some of the ‘facts’ in this story are a farce – It seems on investigation that ONLY certain true facts have been strung together to create a nepharious impression of what is happening on the ground. I have also spoken to parliment and can confirm what facts about this story are true and which are a not. It seems that 7 Rhinos were legally exported out of South Africa which were vetted by our DEA. they currently have applications for another 13 which are carefully being considered. Bester Birds and Animals Zoo Parc has been issued permits and Mystic Feathers and Birds has never exported any Rhino. A company DECAI international also has sent out Rhinos to Vietnam. Rhisja if you claim to be in possesion of these permits – it really would assist in us bringing the correct people to book. On speaking to Bester Birds and Animals they have confirmed that they did indeed ship the Rhino to Vietnam ( legally )and shipped them on Thai airlines for the only reason that there are no other airlines that have the capacity to ship this size of animal to Vietnam. Thai Airlines confirmed the same.It is also mandatory from the airlines that a vet accompany the animals on each flight. Nothing sinister about this as inferred above Cheers Jeremy

  4. Interesting read. No accusations have been made. Looks like there’s some paperwork with some names listed on it. May or may not mean anything. Not sure what all the fuss is about.

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