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South Africa, Vietnam Sign Deal to Curb Rhino Poaching

Dec 11, 2012 12:34 PM EST

In an effort to impede rhino poaching, South Africa, which is home to 85 percent of the African rhino population, has signed a deal with Vietnam, according to officials.

South Africa's Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and her Vietnamese counterpart Cao Duc Phat signed the agreement Monday that promises to enforce strict laws and share information between the two countries in a bid to conserve and protect the rhinos. Both the nations will also comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) guidelines, reports The Associated Press.

Rhinos are being killed for their horns which are touted to be a prized possession. Rhino horns are believed to have medicinal properties that help in curing diseases like cancer.

Demand for horns has soared in some Asian countries, which has paved the way for an illegal trading business to thrive. Vietnam is one of the major markets for rhino horns.

Although rhino poaching and trading of the horns has been banned by international conventions, there is a significant rise in the number of rhino deaths in 2012. Latest reports reveal that 618 rhinos were poached in South Africa this year, which is nearly twice the number of rhinos killed in 2010, reports BBC.

"The continued slaughter is a cause for immense concern," Edna Molewa told BBC.

"We believe that this latest development at an international level is crucial for South Africa to effectively deal with the current scourge of poaching, and with the illegal hunting largely driven by the international demand for the rhino horn," she said.

Meanwhile, conservation groups have welcomed the move by both the countries, hoping that the deal will help protect the endangered species.

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