As a place for signature ceremony was chosen Dvur Kralove Zoo for its successful campaign Burn Horns, Save Rhinos in 2014 during which zoo’s rhino horn stockpiles were demonstratively burned down. News about this campaign spread around the world. „We really appreciate that Vietnamese representatives perceive the demand for horn and ivory as a problem,“ said Přemysl Rabas. „It is great that Vietnam decided to cooperate with the Czech Republic and we are delighted that our campaign partially helped to catalyse the cooperation,“ added Přemysl Rabas.
The main aim of mutual cooperation of both countries is the information and experience exchange in the field of the management of endangered species under the CITES convention. Furthemore, both countries are going to raise the public awareness that should lead to reduction of consumption and consequently to suppression of the illegal trade in endangered species, primarily in rhino horn and ivory. The Czech Republic is one of the transit countries from where the horn is smuggled to the states of East Asia. For instance the hunting trophies from South Africa are often abused for this purpose. Even the cases when the horn was stealed from historical collections are known.
Current situation of rhino populations in the wild is highly critical. Traffickers are intentionally spreading lies that rhino horn strenghtens the organism and even that it is effective against the cancer. That is why the horn has recently become a status symbol in East Asia. As a consequence, every day three rhinos are killed by poachers. In 2007 there were poached only 13 rhinos in the Republic of South Africa whereas last year it was at least 1215 and often in a very cruel way. It could lead to a complete extermination of the majority of rhinos if the demand for the horn increases.
In September 2014 Dvur Kralove Zoo publicly burned down its rhino horn stockpiles as well as the horn coming from illegal activities. „Our aim was to alert the public and inform it about the plight of rhinos. The only way how to secure a safer future for rhinos is to reduce the demand for horn,“ said Přemysl Rabas, Dvur Kralove Zoo director.
The burning of rhino horns in 2014 took place under the patronage of Minister of Environment of the Czech Republic Richard Brabec. The CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon delivered a speech during the ceremony and many other Czech and foreign zoos and reservations joined the appeal. This symbolic event was supported by many prominent personalities, e.g. a world-wide known primatologist Jane Goodall, famed Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey or legendary conservationist Tony Fitzjohn.