Young Vietnamese activists organize “Back to Dust and Sand” rally in Ho Chi Minh City for World Rhino Day

HO CHI MINH CITY (19 September 2015) — Bearing flowers and carrying protest signs, a large contingent of young Vietnamese activists dressed in black staged a Sunday memorial service and funeral procession in Ho Chi Minh City to protest the ongoing slaughter of Africa’s rhinos for their horns.

Timed to global events honoring World Rhino Day on September 22, the funeral protest memorialized a fictional mother and calf, symbolizing the over 750 rhinos poached thus far this year in South Africa, home to most of the world’s rhinos.

Vietnam is a primary market in the lucrative rhino horn trade, which perpetuates myths of medicinal benefits and even cancer-fighting properties of horn. It’s also used by some to demonstrate affluence and social status, both as a party drug and as a gift to important political officials.

The memorial event, titled “Back to Dust and Sand,” is part of the Stop Using Rhino Horn campaign, launched last year by WildAid in collaboration with CHANGE and African Wildlife Foundation. During a burial ceremony at the culmination of the event, attendees placed white roses into two black coffins to pay respect to “Krugeratu” and “Krugerati,” named for South Africa’s Kruger National Park, where a majority of the poaching is taking place.

“This event sends a message to the international community that the people of Vietnam also love and care about protecting nature and wildlife,” said Hong Hoang, director of CHANGE and lead campaigner for WildAid Vietnam.

Nguyen Thanh Trung, a final-year student at Banking University of Ho Chi Minh City and one of 40 young people who participated in the event at Saigon Outcast art space, said, ”I really felt upset some Vietnamese people still believe blindly in the non-existent healing ‘miracle’ of rhino horn. And I personally feel that I need to take responsibility in protecting this beautiful species from the brink of extinction.”

Artist collaborations for the event included a vivid graffiti art performance by Trang Subi, who said, “Worldwide, the use of art and creative forms to include messages about social issues and the environment is very common, but in Vietnam, this is relatively new. I always want to use my artistic ability to bring the message to the public, especially the youth, to help protect the rhino as well as wildlife in general from the risk of vanishing from this earth.”

The funeral event is the latest in a series of campaign activities in Vietnam to target rhino horn use. Last month, a who’s who of national celebrities and Vietnam Idol alumni appeared on VTV for “The Call of the Wild,” a two-hour special to raise awareness about the fate of Africa’s rhinos (The special will premiere later this year on VTV). Other recent events have engaged CEOs, intellectuals, doctors and religious followers at Buddhist temples throughout Vietnam.—-

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Notes to editor:

Stop Using Rhino Horn is a three-year campaign from 2014 to 2016, initiated by WildAid to reduce rhino horn demand in Vietnam — a response to the dramatic decline in the world’s rhino populations in recent years. Last year, the campaign received the support of many famous people in Vietnam as ambassadors and advocates to send the message to millions of people. In 2014, the number of rhinos killed in Africa for consumption in Asian countries, especially Vietnam and China, reached a record-breaking number of 1215 individuals.

In order to raise public awareness, ambassadors of this campaign have used their influence to reach out and change the unfounded belief of the Vietnamese in rhino horn’s healing power. The biggest names in Vietnam showbiz — such as singer-songwriter Thanh Bui, singer Thu Minh, Duc Tuan, Tung Duong and Le Cat Trong Ly, musician Quoc Trung, Do Bao, actress Hong Anh Minh Page, MC-Producer Anh Tuan, MC Phan Anh, Mrs World second runner-up Thu Huong, writer Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc and many others — have contributed their time and effort in series of strategic activities in this campaign. These activities include: appearing in a PSA broadcasted on dozens of TV channels and public advertising panels; communicating with millions of their followers on social media channels; participating in Forum Theatre Dramas in schools with the presence of 10,000 students, teachers and parents; and speaking on TV talk shows and business events.

About WildAid

WildAid’s mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetime, working with hundreds of Asian and Western political figures, celebrities, and business leaders, including the Duke of Cambridge, Yao Ming, Jackie Chan, Edward Norton and Sir Richard Branson. WildAid’s public service messages and educational initiatives reach hundreds of millions of people a week in Asia through donated media space. For more information, visit www.wildaid.org.

About African Wildlife Foundation

Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF’s programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises that benefit local African communities, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States. For more information, visit www.awf.org, follow us on Twitter @AWF_Official or @awf_media, and find us on Facebook at facebook.com/AfricanWildlifeFoundation.

About CHANGE

Center of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE) – a local non-profit organization under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), is the official partner of WildAid’s program “When the buying stops, the killing can too” in Vietnam. CHANGE is also the official patron of the grassroots climate change movement 350.org Vietnam. Its mission is to create sustainable changes in the environmental and development fields through creative communications; building capacity and creating opportunities for the youth to build local movements and mobilize and engage business corporations, communities, and governments in working out appropriate solutions and policies. For more information, visit www.changevn.org; and find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CHANGEvn

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Contact:

  • Lê Trần Khánh Vy

Communications Coordinator

Tel: (+84) 1689 901 772

Email : vyle@changevn.org

  • Thới Thị Châu Nhi

Campaign Coordinator

Tel: (+84) 977092077

Email: nhithoi@changevn..org

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