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Dispelling the Myth: protecting rhinos and people

We are supporting Wild Act Vietnam with the delivery of a project which aims to directly tackle a continuing source of rhino horn demand in Vietnam, its use as a medicine or tonic.

The project has fantastically been awarded a Lush Charity Pot Grant! In summary, the project will be a series of workshops in medical facilities in Vietnam to raise awareness of the rhino poaching crisis and the fallacies of rhino horn ‘medicines’.

The demand for rhino horn in Vietnam has been recognised as one of the main driving forces for the poaching of rhinos in Africa. Between 2002 and 2007, five comprehensive Vietnamese-language pharmacopoeias were published with specific sections on using rhino horn as medicine. Popular belief in Vietnam is that rhino horn can be used as a treatment and cure for life-threatening cancer.

This project aims to raise awareness about the ineffectiveness of rhino horn ‘medicines’ and the rhino crisis amongst hospital staff, patients and their families through medical workshop programmes at several hospitals in Vietnam.

Wild Act will deliver workshop training with doctors and hospital staff and support the workshops with patients and their family members. A trial of these workshops at the hospital of Hanoi Obstetrics and gynaecology resulted in positive feedback from both doctors and patients' relatives.

The workshop with doctors, nurses and hospital staff is key; advice from doctors, medical practitioners, friends and relatives has a big influence on the decision of the Vietnamese to consume wildlife products. The workshop enables us to inform doctors and hospital staff about scientific evidence on the effectiveness/in-effectiveness, of rhino horn ‘medicines’, and the rhino crisis. We also raise awareness about rhino conservation on the front-line, stress the occurrence of toxic chemicals in rhino horn infusion (a deterrent method used by some organisations in Africa) and how it might affect human health, why it is important to stop rhino horn consumption and the role of doctors in reducing demand for rhino horn in Vietnam. With support from the Vietnamese doctors, we can deliver real and rapid impact in reducing demand for rhino horn, and there is the added benefit of keeping patients on track with effective medicines.

There is the potential to reach at least 20 hospitals, 1000 doctors and 10,000 patients in Hanoi, Vietnam. The project aims to not only play an important role in helping efforts to prevent extinction of the global rhino population, but also in improving human welfare. The use of rhino horn in treating illness, such as cancer as well as for other purposes only started in recent years.

Many Vietnamese patients spend a huge amount of money to purchase rhino horn in a hope that it will magically cure their cancer and as a result have missed their chance of treating the illness at its early stage.

There will be more news as the project progresses. Thank you Lush!