American actress and wildlife activist Maggie Q attended a conference in Hanoi Friday to support a campaign against the use of rhino horn in Vietnam.
“It saddens me to see the news of the record number of rhinos killed so their horns can be sold in Vietnam,” Maggie Q said at the launch event of the second year of “Stop Using Rhino Horn.”
“I am proud to be here as my mother is from Vietnam,” Maggie said, sitting next to her mother at the event.
“I would like to help make people aware of the devastating impacts of this trade and persuade them to stop buying rhino horn.”
Maggie Q said many people in Vietnam, whose last Java rhino died in 2010, are paying for something they thought will be good for their heath, but they are only abetting a crime.
According to a Nielsen survey released Friday, 75 percent of those interviewed in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City believed that rhino horn has health benefits, with more than one-third of all respondents believing that rhino horn can cure cancer. Such health benefits have not been proven by adequate scientific evidence.
The 36-year-old vegetarian actress joined the conference as a global ambassador of WildAid, which launched the three-year campaign last year targeting consumers in China and Vietnam.
She was accompanied by her fiancé Dylan McDermott, also a famous actor and a wildlife activist who loves elephants.
While in Vietnam, Maggie Q and McDermott have joined WildAid’s team in other events and activities, including “Ticket to the Wild” in Ho Chi Minh City with many campaign ambassadors, partners and friends. They also visited the Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Center to promote pangolin conservation.
Government, business leaders and media partners have contributed $1.6 million to the WildAid campaign, aiming to spread its messages to millions of consumers.
More than 40 Vietnamese celebrities have gone on board with the campaign together with other international ambassadors, including Yao Ming and David Beckham.
WildAid Vietnam is also running a nail polish contest
on Facebook to raise awareness that rhino horn is structurally similar to human nails and hair.
John Baker, WildAid’s managing director, said at the conference that raising awareness and changing people’s behavior can end the trade in endangered wildlife, but only with effective law enforcement.
“We also hope that the government of Vietnam will consider destroying its rhino horn stockpile to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the rhino horn trade.”