Vietnam’s traditional healers take oath against rhino horn

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A poster, seen on a street in Hanoi, reads, "Rhino horns are just like buffalo horns, human hair and nails. Do not waste your money."  Photo credit: Reuters A poster, seen on a street in Hanoi, reads, "Rhino horns are just like buffalo horns, human hair and nails. Do not waste your money." Photo credit: Reuters

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Vietnam's leading practitioners of traditional medicine have vowed not to use threatened wildlife products in their practice.
“Traditional medicine practitioners have relied on the moral values and knowledge of traditional medicine for thousands of years to protect the nation's health,” said Nguyen Hoang Son, Deputy Director of the Traditional Medicine Administration--a branch of the Ministry of Health.
“They continue this tradition today as they commit to do their part to protect the world’s wildlife by refraining from the illegal use of endangered species,” Son said.
The practitioners signed the pledge following meetings held between the ministry and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC on January 21-22 in Ho Chi Minh City and on January 29-30 in the central province of Ha Tinh.
During the meetings, the practitioners were trained by the health ministry’s communications experts on how to become ambassadors for wildlife protection and spread the message about the impact of using rhino horn.
“After learning that 1,215 rhinos were poached last year in South Africa alone, I feel strongly that practitioners of traditional medicine have a responsibility not to use endangered species products, especially rhino horn, in their practice because it is unsustainable and illegal,” said Nguyen Duc Thu from Traditional Medicine Hospital of Dong Nai Province, which borders Ho Chi Minh City.
Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC in Vietnam, said it is critical that these practitioners are equipped with accurate, up-to-date information about laws concerning the use of threatened wildlife species in traditional medicine so they can make informed decisions in their practice.
“Through these workshops, practitioners are showing their dedication to the value of traditional medicine and to the Vietnamese people by enacting their role in the protection of the world’s threatened wildlife,” she said.

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