Vietnamese spend $22 million on rhino hunting permits in South Africa

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Vietnamese nationals spent up to US$22 million on rhino hunting licenses in South Africa between 2003 and April this year, when the country began refusing rhino hunting permits to all Vietnamese, according to statistics released a meeting in Ninh Binh Province.

The training class for journalists on the anti-wildlife trade was held in Cuc Phuong National Park on Thursday.

According to statistics from international organizations, between 2007 and 2009, Vietnamese hunters ranked second, after only the Americans, in terms of the number of rhinos they hunted in South Africa.

Between July 2009 and April 2012, there were 185 Vietnamese among 384 foreigners who came to South Africa for rhino hunting.

According to wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, figures from the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) show there were 657 rhino horns legally imported from South Africa into Vietnam as hunting trophies between 2003 and 2010.

However, the figure recorded by Vietnamese customs authorities was only 170, meaning that the remaining rhino horns, whose import tax value was estimated at $2 million, were not declared with customs authorities.

According to Dr. Naomi Doak, coordinator of Traffic's Southeast Asia-Greater Mekong Program, the illegal wildlife trade network brings hundreds of rhino horns from Africa to Vietnam through many channels, in addition to legally imported horns.

They often enter Vietnam via air, usually from Johannesburg to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and then to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

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Another emerging air route is from Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, to Vietnam.

The rhino horns can also be brought in via road from Laos and Thailand to Vietnam, according to Traffic.

Vietnamese conservation experts say most of the rhino horns imported into Vietnam were then sold to China or Hong Kong.

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