Traditional medicine practitioners can help save rhinos by emphasising that rhino horn cannot cure cancer and offering alternative remedies, including various herbs, experts said at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 18.

"In recent consumer research commissioned as part of the WWF/TRAFFIC Global Campaign on Illegal Wildlife Trade, it highlighted belief in the medical properties of rhino horn as one of the underlying motivations for buying and using this illegal product," said Dr. Naomi Doak, co-ordinator of TRAFFIC's Greater Mekong Programme, who spoke at the workshop.

A devastating total of 1004 rhinos were killed in 2013 and as of mid-April, 277 had been killed in South Africa, according to South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs.

Consumption in Asian countries, including Vietnam and China, has been identified as one of the main reasons for the escalating poaching numbers and the current crisis facing these animals.

At the workshop, participants received information on a number of topics, including the reality of illegal trade, the current rhino poaching crisis, the historical use of rhino horn in traditional medicine, effective alternatives and Vietnamese laws covering rhino horn.

Professor Dr. Hoang Bao Chau, former director of the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and Professor Dr. Nguyen Chan Hung, president of the Cancer Association of Vietnam, emphasised that rhino horn could not cure cancer.

Associate Professor Dr. Tran Luu Van Hien, former head of the Traditional Medicine Experimental Laboratory at the National Hospital of Traditional Medicine, presented alternative remedies, including various herbs.

The workshop's more than 100 participants agreed to engage in more activities to aid the conservation of rhinos and endangered species.

The workshop provided a forum for discussion so practitioners and experts can agree upon a commitment to eliminate the use of products originating from rhino horn.

All commitments and actions to say no to rhino horn from traditional medicine practitioners play a role in the efforts to protect rhinos, speakers said.

The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Health's Traditional Medicine Administration, TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) and World Wide Fund for Nature - Vietnam (WWF).-VNA