Two Vietnamese pop singers have been invited to South Africa to watch rhinos in the wilderness to encourage them to speak out against the rampant poaching of the animal and use of its horn in Vietnam.
The Wilderness Foundation, as part of their Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, will be hosting Thu Minh and Thanh Bui in Port Elizabeth from April 11 to 14.
The two arrived in South Africa on March 30 to prepare for their campaign.
Thu Minh is considered “Vietnam’s Queen of Dance-Pop,” while Thanh Bui is the first Australian of Vietnamese origin to enter Australian Idol’s Top 10 in 2008.
The two have been given helicopter rides to the natural habitats of wild animals, particularly rhinos, which are on the verge of extinction.
They have also visited Cape Town – South Africa’s capital – and other scenic spots, as well as joined art exhibits that raise funds for rhino conservation.
The pair’s tour, which has been covered in South African media, is part of a Demand Reduction Strategy developed to help tackle the rhino poaching crisis by reducing the demand for rhino horn in certain Asian countries.
According to the organizers, the visit aims to give Thu Minh and Thanh Bui an authentic wildlife experience with rhinos in their natural habitat and to introduce the pair to key people who are dedicated to battling rhino poaching.
A press conference will be held in Port Elizabeth on Monday, where Thu Minh and Thanh Bui will address the local media on the issue.
Wilderness Foundation chief executive Andrew Muir said the organization would also work closely with the international conservation group Wild Aid to produce demand reduction material to be distributed in South Africa, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries to boost the efficiency of the campaign.
Other partners working with the campaign include the Shamwari Group, Investec Rhino Lifeline, and the Mantis Collection.
Founded in 1972, the Wilderness Foundation operates in many countries from its base in South Africa to protect wildlife and combat wildlife crime in partnership with local communities.
Official statistics released by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs in March 2014 show that 172 rhinos have been killed for their horns by poachers since the start of 2014, while 1,004 were killed in 2013.
Vietnam is considered one of the major hot spots of the illegal rhino horn trade.
The horn is crushed into powder and used by wealthy Vietnamese as a potion since it supposedly has medicinal properties; an after-party “hang-over cure;” or a costly gift in business deals.
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