Wildlife SOS sent to HCMC schools

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A traveling exhibition to raise awareness of wildlife protection was launched in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday, targeting 40 secondary schools with more than 20,000 students and teachers in the city.

The "SOS traveling exhibition Education on wildlife product consumption" campaign is being jointly organized by the HCMC-based environmental advocate Wildlife At Risk (WAR), HCMC Department of Education and Training and the municipal Forest Protection agency.

The campaign was officially launched at the Minh Duc Secondary School in District 1, urging leaders, students and participants to act to help Vietnam's wildlife species that face  that faces possible extinction like the Javan Rhino, WAR said in a statement.

During the exhibition, visitors are welcomed to a tent of about 60 square meters that include different interactive exhibits, models and games.

"The SOS traveling exhibition tent emphasizes that consumers are the most dangerous threat to wildlife. Everyone can contribute to wildlife protection by saying no to illegal wildlife products," said Do Thi Thanh Huyen, WAR Wildlife Education Manager.

"WAR has studied and researched carefully before developing the SOS traveling tent to ensure that the exhibition highlights serious issues of illegal wildlife product consumption in an impressive but relaxed manner for the students. We expect that leaving the exhibition, the students will be moved and willing to act to protect Vietnam's unique wildlife," she said.

In memory of the Javan Rhino, participants and students listen to a unique song about the Javan Rhino in Cat Tien National Park and spend a minute of silence to remember this charismatic mammal.

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Fifty best paintings from a drawing contest titled "Treasures of the forest," focusing on conservation of the Javan Rhino and other endangered wildlife, done by secondary school students from March to May 2011 are also displayed at the ceremony.

Each participant will also receive a special poster in memory of the Javan Rhino that reminds everyone that, "The Javan Rhino has gone forever. Let's protect other wildlife so it does not suffer from the same fate as the Javan Rhino".

With the important message, "Say no to illegal wildlife products", the SOS traveling exhibition provides children aged 12 - 15 years old with useful knowledge and information related to the consumption of wild animal products, thereby directing and urging the students to act and help Vietnam's endangered wildlife before it is too late, according to WAR.

The Javan Rhino was announced extinct throughout Vietnam in October 2011 after remains of an animal were found in Cat Tien National Park in May. Subsequent investigations found it had been shot down by poachers.

"Following the Javan Rhino, many other species may be facing extinction in the next decade, including large mammals such as the tiger and also the elephant. We are doing our best to ensure that the students our future generation understand the consequences of the illegal wildlife consumption and trade," said WAR director Nguyen Vu Khoi.

"We hope that they will be willing to commit towards wildlife protection before it is too late. Wildlife is calling for our help, as the name of the exhibition tent highlights SOS," he said.

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