S. Africa, Vietnam sign rhino protection agreement

South Africa says its diplomats have signed an agreement with Vietnam to try and halt the trade of horns taken from poached rhinoceros.

In this photo taken on 13 March 2012, an African rhinoceros is seen at a private zoo of Bao Son Paradise Park in Hanoi, Vietnam, which has 24-hour security to protect against potential poachers. Wildlife conservationists warn that Vietnam�s surging demand for rhino horn, which is believed to treat everything from hangovers to cancer, is threatening to wipe out the world�s remaining rhino populations. Illegal killings in Africa hit a record high in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- South Africa says its diplomats have signed an agreement with Vietnam to try and halt the trade of horns taken from poached rhinoceros.

South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs announced Monday that the deal had been signed. The department said the agreement included conservation and protection provisions, as well as a promise to increase law enforcement efforts and information sharing between the two countries.

The deal comes amid a wholesale slaughter of rhinos in South Africa, which has the continent's biggest rhino population. Government statistics released Monday show at least 618 rhinos have been poached this year alone.

Vietnam is one of the top markets for rhino horn. The material is more valuable than cocaine there and is used as a medical supplement, though doctors say it has no benefit.


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