A campaign calling to end the use of rhino horn to cure cancer brought together a Vietnamese-American Hollywood actress, a Vietnamese-Australian singer-songwriter, a representative from the Customs Department and the chairman of Vietnam's Cancer Society.

The campaign organisers, a mix of local and international preservation groups, held a press conference in Hanoi on April 10.

"Vietnam can help save the rhinos," said Maggie Q, who has starred in Nikita and Mission Impossible. She flew to Vietnam with her mother, who is from the northern Vietnam province of Ninh Binh.

In 2007, 13 rhinos were killed. But that number soared last year to 1,215 rhinos.

"If the killing can't be stopped, there will be no more rhinos in the wild in 10 years," WildAid Director John Baker said.

The Government is committed to stopping wildlife trafficking, especially in rhino horn, ivory and tiger products, said Le Duc Binh of the Customs Department.

In a project supported by WildAid, Working Dogs for Conservation started training two dogs in the US to join the Hai Phong Port Customs Office in September.

Change, a Vietnamese NGO; WildAid, an international anti-wildlife-trafficking organisation; and the African Wildlife Foundation have teamed up to convince the people of Vietnam that rhino horn cannot cure cancer.

"In our survey last year, 75 percent of the people said they believed rhino horns have some sort of medicinal use and they hardly knew where they had the information from," said Change Director Hong Minh Hong.

One in every three people interviewed believed rhino horn could help cure cancer. One third did not know that the rhino horns must be cut when they are still alive.

Scientists have made clear that rhino horn is made of keratine, just like human nails.

Like in any large event in Vietnam, the meeting couldn't end without a singer coming out on stage. Vietnamese-Australian singer-songwriter Thanh Bui covered The Beatles' Help, calling on people in Vietnam not to seek out and buy rhino horns.

The English language daily Vietnam News, published by the Vietnam News Agency, is one of more than 20 media outlets that support the campaign.-VNA