The event marked the launch of the ‘Save the Rhino Vietnam’ campaign – a two-week initiative co-ordinated by Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) and Save the Rhino International (SRI) to raise public awareness and reduce consumer demand for rhino horn in Vietnam.
Blackthorne, known by Vietnamese audiences as Quentin Lance detective in the hit TV show ‘Arrow’ and as Stephen Saunders in ‘24’, which airs on Vietnam Television Channel 1, is on a visit to Vietnam from May 19 to June 2 as part of the campaign.
After the kick-off event, the campaign will move forward with other activities including meetings with Vietnamese corporate leaders, talks at schools, and visits to wildlife rescue centres. ENV’s rhino ambassadors, comedian Xuan Bac and singer Hong Nhung, will also join Blackthorne in this important campaign.
Paul Blackthorne speaks during the discussion on rhino protection with Thang Long University students in Hanoi on May 20. (Credit: NDO)
Speaking at the event, Paul Blackthorne revealed that Vietnam was chosen to be the heart of the campaign as it is a hotspot for rhino horn consumption.
Vietnam is a key consumer country of rhino horn with 90% ending up in the country. Over the past decade, the perceived value of rhino horn as a status symbol and miracle cure for a wide range of ailments has led to its increased demand.
At the current rate of killing, the creature which has been around for 50 million years would be extinct in ten years, Paul Blackthorne said, adding that rhinos are heading toward extinction because of greed and ignorance.
Rhino horn cures nothing; it's the same thing as fingernails, Paul Blackthorne stressed while calling on the community to take actions to protect rhinos.
Paul Blackthorne will join activities under the campaign aimed at raising public awareness and reducing consumer demand for rhino horns in Vietnam. (Credit: NDO)
The last Javan rhino in Vietnam was killed for its horn in 2010. Rhino poaching internationally is now at a crisis point, with three rhinos killed every day in South Africa alone. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), if poaching continues to increase at current rates, rhinos could be extinct by 2026.
Deputy Director of SRI Susie Offord-Woolley said that with the shared passion for rhino conservation by celebrities and others, rhinos could have a better future. It is too late for Vietnam’s last rhino but not too late for other rhinos in the world if all act now, she stressed.
Bringing an end to the tragic killing of rhinos requires a two-pronged approach in Vietnam, said ENV’s Executive Director Vu Thi Quyen.
The approach should entail aggressive measures aimed at dismantling criminal networks that smuggle rhino horn into Vietnam from Africa, in conjunction with sustained campaigns by both government and private sector leaders targeting Vietnamese consumers to dispel myths and rumors about the supposed magical properties of rhino horn, Quyen affirmed.
Blackthorne launched the ‘Save the Rhino Vietnam’ campaign with Arsenal FC football player Aaron Ramsey in April by promoting the sale of rhino t-shirts produced by well-known artist Rob Prior to raise funds for ‘Save the Rhino International’. Orders for the t-shirts can be made at http://represent.com/savetherhinovietnam.
Paul Blackthorne signs the pledge to protect rhinos. (Credit: NDO)
Many other celebrities have joined them to support the campaign and promote rhino protection including football players Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Flamini, Calum Chambers and Hollywood actors Stephen Amell, Matt Smith, John Barrowman, Alex Kingston, Aamir Khan, Emily Bett Rickards and David Ramsey.
With his deep concern for rhinos and elephants which are under threat of extinction due to illegal hunting and trade, in April last year Paul Blackthorne launched the campaign ‘Poach eggs not elephant’ to raise funds to protect elephants. In November the same year, he initiated the campaign ‘Keep rhino horny’ with diverse activities to protect rhinos.
Thang Long University students sign to protect rhinos. (Credit: NDO)