Friday, October 28, 2011

Javan Rhino Extinct In Vietnam

We live in a time when more and more animal species disappear.
It was officially announced this week that Vietnam’s Javan rhino is now extinct - how ironic that this announcement should be made in the week after World Rhino Day.
The Javan rhinoceros was pronounced extinct in Vietnam by WWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF).
WWF warns illegal hunting to supply the wildlife trade threatens the futures of other rare animals in the country, including the tiger, Asian elephant and Siamese crocodile.
The rhinoceros was believed to be extinct on mainland Asia until the 1988 discovery of a small group. The only other population of Javan rhinos is critically endangered, with barely 50 individuals left in a small national park in Indonesia. I trust these will be protected with a no-holds-barred "weapons-free" approach!
Asia's demand for rhino horn for traditional medicine increases every year, meaning protection and expansion of the remaining population is of the highest priority. But the message makes no difference to poachers or the Asian consumers they supply – THERE IS NO PROOF AT ALL OF ANY RHINO HORN MEDICINAL PROPERTIES! Rhino horn consists of keratin only (like our fingernails and hair), yet Asian markets still use it for traditional medicine. Recently, poachers have started gouging out rhinos' eyes to use for medicine as well. Rhino horns are so popular that thieves have begun stealing antique ones from European museums!
And it's not just poachers and thieves involved in this barbarism: in 2008, a diplomat from the Vietnamese embassy in South Africa was filmed as she received rhino horns right in front of the embassy building. In Vietnam and China, powdered horn has been fetching as much as US$50,000 kg this year, roughly similar to the street price for cocaine in the UK.
Those who perpetuate this sort of destruction in the name of tradition destroy the very natural resources they covet. I guess only when the source is obliterated will they realise how wrong they've been! By then, of course, it will be too late.

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