Illegal Rhino Horn Trade: Vietnamese Delegation on Fact-Finding Mission in South Africa

A Vietnamese delegation is on a fact-finding mission about the illegal trade in rhino horn in South Africa. Photo by Lorraine R [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
A Vietnamese delegation is on a fact-finding mission about the illegal trade in rhino horn in South Africa. Photo by Lorraine R [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

A Vietnamese delegation — including a key National Assembly member, a well-known journalist, a national film celebrity and a senior Environmental Police officer — arrived this week in South Africa to investigate the illegal trade in rhino horn.

Following the ten-day fact-finding mission, the delegates will appear at a special press conference in Vietnam on Friday, September 20. Journalists are invited to hear them reflect on their South African experiences and celebrate the fourth annual World Rhino Day, which falls two days later on Sunday, September 22.

Vietnamese delegates embarking on the ten-day investigation in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV)
Vietnamese delegates embarking on the ten-day investigation in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV)

UPDATE 09/12/2013: ENV reports that the Vietnamese delegation joined Kruger National Park investigators as they responded to a report of a dead rhino about 20 km from the Mozambique border. The rhino had been shot and dehorned about 7 – 10 days prior to discovery. Using a metal detector, the bullet that killed the rhino was discovered. Collecting evidence such as the bullet will hopefully help investigators arrest and convict the killers.

Video from the helicopter landing near the crime scene, about 20 km from the Mozambique border:

Vietnamese delegates:

  • Mr. Vo Tuan Nhan — National Assembly member, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Science, Technology and Environment
  • Mr. Nguyen Viet Tien — Environmental Police – Vice Chief of Hanoi Environmental Police, Department of Hanoi Environmental Police
  • Mr. Do Doan Hoang — Journalist, Lao Dong newspaper
  • Mr. Nguyen Xuan Bac — Comedian and actor
  • Ms. Nguyen Phuong Dung — Vice Director, ENV
  • Ms. Ninh Phuong Thao — Communications Coordinator, ENV

Before heading to Kruger National Park, the delegates attended a briefing by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and a demonstration of specially trained dogs who sniff out rhino horn in luggage.

A specially trained dog demonstrates how to find rhino horn hidden in luggage. Photo courtesy of Education for Nature-Vietnam
A specially trained dog demonstrates how to find rhino horn hidden in luggage. Photo courtesy of Education for Nature-Vietnam

Nguyen Xuan Bac posted on his Facebook page that visiting South Africa has been a dream come true and urged his 300,000+ fans to help protect rhinos.

“Setting foot in South Africa has been a dream of mine since I was a child … now it has come true. This is a golden chance for me to directly observe rhinos in their natural environment. It’s regretful that we lost our last rhino in 2010. Let’s lend a hand to protect rhinos. You people who grind rhino horn in the hope that it is a magical medicine must stop! You are being fooled and wasting your money, which goes only to greedy smugglers.”

Vietnamese celebrity Xuan Bac , part of a Vietnamese delegation to South Africa, is urging is fans to help protect rhinos. Photo credit: Rhinose Foundation / courtesy of Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV)
Vietnamese celebrity Xuan Bac , part of a Vietnamese delegation to South Africa, is urging is fans to help protect rhinos. Photo credit: Rhinose Foundation / courtesy of Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV)

The trip was organized by Vietnamese NGO Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) and South Africa’s Rhinose Foundation.

In preparation for World Rhino Day, Education for Nature-Vietnam has released a new public service announcement (PSA) to increase awareness about the plight of the Africa’s rhinos. The PSA traces the path of the illegal rhino horn trade from South Africa to Vietnam, highlighting the severe consequences of Vietnam’s increasing demand for rhino horn products.

Watch Education for Nature-Vietnam’s PSA:

Learn more about the innovative work of Education for Nature-Vietnam:


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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.