South Africa and Vietnam discuss biodiversity conservation

31 March 2014


South Africa and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam concluded fruitful discussions in Pretoria on 28 March 2014 on issues related to biodiversity conservation and management.
The commitment to improving cooperation on biodiversity conservation especially controlling the illicit trade and poaching of wildlife, including rhino, has formed an important part of the working visit to South Africa by a high level delegation from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The 20-member delegation to South Africa was headed by the Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Associate Prof Dr Bùi Cách Tuyến. The visit to South Africa follows after the signing on 6 May 2013 of an Implementation Plan in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of Biodiversity Conservation and Protection that was signed in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2012.
The action plan was developed, and is being implemented, in accordance with the nature of the MoU. It is aimed at promoting cooperation between the Parties in the field of biodiversity management, conservation and protection, law enforcement, compliance with CITES, technology transfer, and other relevant legislation and international Conventions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
The working visit comprised a visit to Cape Town’s table mountain, a three-day workshop in Pretoria and a visit to the Kruger National Park.

The visit took place in a week when the number of rhino poached in South Africa increased to 233 since January 1, 2014. A total of 144 rhino have been poached in the Kruger National Park, 32 in North West, 21 in Limpopo and 16 in KwaZulu-Natal. Fifty-four alleged poachers have been arrested.
Officials from the Departments of Environmental Affairs, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, SANParks and the South African Police Service briefed the delegation on subjects including:
  • The implementation of biodiversity management legislation in South Africa;
  • Curbing poaching and the illegal wildlife trade;
  • Biodiversity management and the sustainable utilisation of resources;
  • Lessons learnt on existing financing mechanisms and offsets in terms of biodiversity monitoring;
  • Wildlife and protected area management, biodiversity conservation and management experiences;
  • Forest management; and
  • Enforcement-related matters.
The delegation were briefed on rhino anti-poaching initiatives in the Kruger National Park, and were provided an insight into the research and work being undertaken by the non-governmental sector in South Africa to curb rhino poaching.

Following the robust discussions, agreement was reached to advance the implementation of the Action Plan and to assist South Africa in meeting its international obligations.
Whilst it was noted that rhino poaching across South Africa and Africa has risen sharply in the past few years and has threatened to reverse the hard-won progress achieved by conservation authorities during the 20th Century, South Africa acknowledges and values the contribution and effort by Vietnam in the fight against Rhino poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife and its products.
“This resonates well with the purpose of the visit to South Africa which is to learn more about South African biodiversity conservation and management with specific focus on wildlife and protected areas management, the team’s specific intention for the visit is to strengthen cooperation among the two countries in controlling illegal wildlife trade including endangered species trade such as rhino in the context of the signed MOU on cooperation in the field of Biodiversity Conservation and Protection between the two countries through sharing of experiences, information, best practices and lessons learnt,” said the Director-General of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba.
During the discussions, actions directed at specific areas of intervention were vigorously deliberated and agreed upon in order to address this problem.

These include engagements and exchange of expertise on the optimisation of management of protected areas and monitoring systems, the promotion and sharing of awareness raising efforts in both countries, technology enhancement for improvement of communication exchange and investigation, optimal natural resources management to sustain wildlife resources, and the strengthening of joint research on market demands for illegal and legal wildlife products. The exchange of technology includes invasive species control and DNA detection of rhino horn.
“Through these discussions we have learnt and exchanged many valuable lessons including that biodiversity management is unified in South Africa, the mobilization and involvement of stakeholders, as well as the establishment of joint management structures to protect biodiversity,” said Dr. Pham Anh Cuong, Director of Biodiversity Conservation Agency of Vietnam.
In addressing the thorny area of demand reduction, as a critical intervention in curbing rhino poaching and as tasked through a decision from the recent CITES COP16 in Thailand, Vietnam expressed enthusiasm in assisting South Africa address the scourge.
South Africa has accepted an invite from Vietnam to undertake a working visit to Vietnam later in the year, to gain a greater understanding of the elements influencing illegal consumption of and trade in wildlife. Thereafter, both parties will jointly develop material to create and enhance awareness, particularly targeted at the youth in both countries.

South Africa and Vietnam recognise the value for both countries to share information, policies and legislation on biodiversity protection and committed to further developing cooperation between the two countries in striving to address international wildlife crime and the conservation and management of biodiversity.

In response to the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating Africa’s elephant and rhino, Peace Parks Foundation in 2013 launched a programme to combat wildlife crime. Click here for more information.

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