Vietnam, which has one of the most diverse ecologies on earth, has just gotten a black eye as one of the worst guardians of that rich and promising diversity. World Wildlife Federation says Vietnam ranks at the bottom of 23 Asian and African countries in protecting rhinos, tigers and elephants.
WWF put Vietnam at the top of its list of offenders because of its tiger farms and use of rhino horn for medicinal purposes — out-ranking even China, the world’s largest consumer of illegal wildlife products, a $10 billion-a-year business.
The report says 448 rhinos were poached from southern Africa last year and sent mostly to Vietnam. WWF also criticizes Vietnam’s for legalizing and registering 11 tiger farms to produce traditional medicines.
In a sense, the rhino trade in Vietnam is similar to cocaine in the West. It not only threatens a species but also emphasizes short-term financial gain rather than long-term prosperity. Being a conduit for poachers doesn’t help Vietnam’s economic aspirations.
More on Vietnam’s wildlife crime record