South African based conservation organization Wilderness Foundation Africa, in partnership with Vietnam based SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy, recently hosted a Seminar entitled “Conservation and Business: Creating a Legacy” in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The seminar was attended by nearly 100 business people from Vietnam, who listened to presentations from 3 presenters and had the opportunity to ask questions and participate in a discussion with the panel of speakers.
In his presentation, Matthew Norval, Chief Operations Officer of Wilderness Foundation Africa highlighted conservation and environmental challenges and opportunities, and the intrinsic link between business and heritage and the common aspiration to create a legacy. Dr. William Fowlds, well known wildlife veterinarian and rhino care specialist based in South Africa, gave an emotional and inspirational presentation, highlighting that rhino are but one of many wildlife species being decimated due to the illicit trade in wildlife products. Dr. Fowlds sees the impact of this trade on a daily basis in his work with rhino killed or injured as a result of poaching, and he shared some of his stories with delegates, illustrating the pain and suffering caused by the demand for rhino horn.
Nguyen Phan Thuy Duong, Managing Editor of ELLE Decoration Vietnam, discussed how contemporary design embraces the concepts of comfort, style, and convenience. She focused on how we can still achieve design goals whilst reducing the impact on the earth’s resources, with a focus on sustainable living and conscious creativity.
During the 2nd segment of the Seminar, the presenters formed part of a panel, which also included Thanh Bui, well known pop star and Managing Director of Soul Corporation and Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc Minh, Head of the Traditional Medicine Department at Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital, to futher discussions and to answer questions from the audience.
Thanh Bui expressed the importance of saving this majestic species and appealed to the audience to consider building a legacy rather than allowing misconception, greed and status to rule our decisions when it comes to the use of rhino horn. Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc Minh discussed traditional medicine in the context of modern health care and showed examples of ancient Traditional Medicine textbooks, illustrating that these books have been misinterpreted and that rhino horn does not cure cancer.
“Today I was honored to engage with some respected Vietnamese traditional medicine practitioners and those involved in business and luxury product branding. They all have a desire to be a part of the solution and NOT the problem, and contribute in a positive way. I learnt and felt so much today. Not since 24th March 2012, when we lost Themba the poaching survivor, have I felt this close to the heart of this consumer market. My heart broke that day, in absolute despair at the sense of suffering and loss. How would his death possibly save other rhino from the same fate? Since then, we have been working in a depth of despair, clawing our way forward. Today, it felt like we took a big step forward in solving this problem”, says Dr William Fowlds.
“The rhino poaching crisis extends across national, cultural and generational boundaries. Along with wildlife crime in general, as well as all the other environmental challenges we face, the senseless killing of rhino for their horn is a shared responsibility. It affects us all and the more we can work together and cooperate the better. The seminar was a very positive experience and it reinforced our believe that the criminal trade in rhino horn can be brought to an end. It is heartening to work with our partners and colleagues in Vietnam who share the concern and continue to demonstrate their commitment and support”, says Matthew Norval Chief Operations Officer of Wilderness Foundation Africa.
The Wild Rhino | Vietnam be my Hero campaign has been implemented by Wilderness Foundation Africa in Vietnam since 2014, in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, Olsen Animal Trust and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy.