Illegal wildlife trade is the largest single threat to many of the world’s most endangered species and Vietnam is one of its main routes.
Animals smuggled from Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos and even India cross its borders. Some are sold locally while others are fed into increasingly voracious markets in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong.
The scale of trading is unimaginable but perhaps captured in a Vietnamese adage: “We can eat anything with four feet except the table. We can eat anything in the ocean except submarines. We can eat anything in the sky except planes.”
Sadly this wanton attitude is rife as, typical of emerging economies, the middle class’ flagrant consumption drives ever-new markets.
Fortunately, not everyone is blinded by greed. For over 15 years we have been supporting Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) because we know it’s an NGO with a track record of significant successes.
During our first fact-finding trip to Vietnam, HSI’s Campaign Director (Michael Kennedy) toured animal markets and reported the problem as “startling”.
Despite much of what was on show being illegal, it was openly trading in heart-breaking numbers. ENV has always understood the desperate need to curb Vietnam’s wildlife trade and our initial funding has undoubtedly been one of the best investments we have made in wildlife protection.
Our support has helped ENV implement a wildlife hotline with a toll-free number so the public can report wildlife crimes. ENV staff alert the authorities to these violations and track every case to its conclusion. ENV’s expertise, media-savvy and collaboration with authorities has been a game changer. Returning a few years later, my request to revisit the wildlife markets was met with laughter: “They’re a thing of the past”.
Since the ENV Wildlife Crimes Unit commenced, 8,200 cases have been reported, forcing thousands of restaurants and businesses to cease selling wildlife. Hundreds of animals have been rescued and there are increasing major successes involving tigers, bears, marine turtles, rhino horn, and other endangered wildlife.
ENV has also enlisted support from Vietnam’s television and movie celebrities in donating time for televised announcements, while billboards and buses reinforce the messaging. Their tireless efforts are seeing a slow but quantifiable change in attitudes—evidenced in 2014 recording some 2,093 cases. We need to provide them with a grant of $20,000 before the end of this financial year.
They really deserve our support so we are asking for yours.
Click the photo above to Read "A year in focus" (PDF 1.1mB) About ENV and the Vietnamese Crime Unit and the many successful wildlife cases they fronted in 2014.