- (Photo: REUTERS/Ilya Kachaev)
The leading global advocate organization for wildlife conservation published its first report of the worst wildlife offenders in Asia and Africa.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) came out with the report on Monday, which highlights the how well the countries in those regions do in terms of protecting endangered animals such as rhinos, tigers and elephants.
The report found Vietnam as the worst country for wildlife crime out of the 23 countries that were on the list. The WWF explained the widespread use of rhino horn, which is used for medicinal purposes by the Vietnamese's people, as well as Vietnam's tiger farms all combined to put Vietnam at the top of the list.
China, who is also largely viewed as the biggest consumer of illegal wildlife products, was placed second behind Vietnam and Laos was ranked third, according to the Associated Press.
There is a large demand in Asia for illegal wildlife products which makes a lucrative business for those involved in the trade. The Brookings Institution estimated that the illegal wildlife trade is worth $8 billion to $10 billion per year in Asia.
The WWF report was concerned with identifying countries where endangered animals live and where those animals are traded or consumed.
The WWF report stated that Vietnam is "the major destination" for rhino horns, which are illegally poached and trafficked from South Africa. Last year there were 448 rhinos killed in South Africa and can one horn can fetch many thousands of dollars.
It is long been believed that by consuming various parts of certain animals that it will provided some medicinal benefit, but doctors and experts agree that those claims are based on myth and not science.
The report was published after a controversy began earlier this year when international wildlife experts were informed that Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development proposed allowing tigers who die in captivity to be consumed. The move would interfere with efforts involved in going after those involved with the illegal trade of tigers.