A LETTER TO THE UN – PLEASE END RHINO TRAFFICKING IN VIETNAM BY IMPOSING TRADE SANCTIONS TO PREVENT LOOMING EXTINCTION

Dear Miss Lalak,

We know you can help – we just hope that you care enough to.

Our names are Gillie and Marc. We’re public artists and conservationists who have been fighting for rhino conservation since our passion was ignited by a project in 2012, commemorating a black rhino mother and calf that tragically passed away in Australia’s Dubbo Zoo. Over the past 6-years, we have created several large-scale bronze public sculptures to give a voice to the voiceless. Earlier this month, we installed the world’s biggest rhino sculpture in Astor Place, New York City to raise awareness and inspire action. It’s titled The Last Three, and is a powerful memorial to the planet’s final Northern White Rhinos.

The next generation is about to be robbed of a world with rhinos.

A creature that once roamed the Earth for millions of years will soon fall to imminent extinction on our watch. With the death of the last male, Northern White Rhinos have already been lost.

His name was Sudan. Millions around the world are heartbroken by his passing. We must use this momentum to effect real change against rhino poaching. The time is now! Will you do your part to keep history from repeating itself?

Whose responsibility is all this? Well, Vietnam is the world leader of illegal rhino horn trading, a critically important fact. However, the responsibility is ultimately ours.

It’s ours, for sitting back, from the comfort of our couches, as rhinos were poached at a rate so swift an entire species fell to extinction.

It’s ours, for watching as one-by-one innocent creatures were brutally murdered in the African plains they call home; their horns hacked off and left for dead.

It’s ours, for doing nothing as a rumor swept Vietnam about the perceived medicinal benefits of rhino horn. Keratin, the same material as human fingernails, has valued the price of a dead rhino higher than gold. GOLD…for the pharmaceutical equivalent of chewing on fingernails!

We didn’t do enough. We hardly did anything. Now, Sudan is dead, and with him all Northern White Rhinos.

Well, if there is any humanity left among humans, then we ask you, the UN – the symbol of world righteousness and spokesperson for the interests of the vulnerable – to stand with us in saying THIS ENDS NOW! The Northern White Rhinos must not disappear in vain, or soon all rhinos will be gone forever.

In 2008, only 100 rhinos were poaching in Africa. Then, in 2015 Wildlife Justice Commission Investigators identified the horns of 573 rhinos, 907 elephants and items from 225 tigers and other animals in the city of Nhi Khe, Vietnam. Do you think this discovery stopped the slaughtering?

It didn’t. According to the senior policy advisory with the World Wildlife Fund, “Requests have been made for Vietnam to report on specific items including seizures in the domestic market. They only reported one. The biggest concern that we have is that they have failed to launch prosecutions as a result of that seizure. We haven’t seen any enforcement actions from markets in Vietnam.”

Well, the result of Vietnam’s lack of action is that in 2016, the number of rhinos poached in Africa skyrocketed to 1,300 animals and has only risen since. This must change, before each one of Earth’s most magnificent creatures falls to complete, imminent extinction.

Ginette Hemley from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Head of Delegation at CITES has said, “Ending the illegal rhino horn trade and helping to save Africa’s rhinos is clearly not a priority for the Vietnamese government.”

Well, now Northern White Rhinos are gone, and it’s time to make it a priority! Vietnam must take swift measures to tackle the demand for rhino horns in their country, or face trade sanctions. If the government is hurt financially, they will have no alternative but to take the illegal wildlife trade seriously.

That’s why we’re asking you to help us impose trade sanctions on Vietnam. The time is now! If we wait any longer the trajectory of endangerment they’re driving will be irreversible.

Please – for our children, for all wildlife, for the balance of the natural world – help us save rhinos. This is the only way. If Vietnam doesn’t take accountability now, we fear it will be too late.

Sincerely,

Gillie and Marc

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