hsi-funded project tackles vietnam's cruel animal trade
Jointly funded by HSI and Conservation International, Education for Nature Vietnam's ' Wildlife Crimes Unit, are tackling Vietnam's cruel and illegal wildlife trade.
Watch a day in the life of the wildlife crimes unit
22nd April, 2016 click here
Welcome to the ENV Wildlife Crime Unit! These are the dedicated young professionals on the telephones every day working to save their country's wildlife. A typical day in ENV's Wildlife Crime Unit begins with a review of the day's cases. Each case officer may handle up to 200 cases ranging from restaurants offering wildlife on their menu to live tigers being kept in someone's backyard.
At the same time, Nga is discussing on the phone with the owner of a shop in Da Nang city who is advertising fresh bear bile on a signboard in front of their shop. The owner tells Nga that she was not aware that selling bear bile was illegal and promises to remove the sign immediately. Nga has heard promises like this before and asks Thao to organize a volunteer to check the shop in a few days and see if the sign is removed. The shop will also be put on the national monitoring list and receive regular visits over the course of the next few months to ensure that the owner does not put the sign back up.
Em Hang is on the phone with police tracking a case involving the seizure of 314kg of pangolins in Ha Tinh province. The animals were reportedly smuggled over the border from Laos and where headed for the Chinese border when Ha Tinh police intercepted the shipment. Hang is collecting information about the specifics of the case to put on the Wildlife Crime Database. She wants to know what happened to the pangolins after they were confiscated, and more importantly, what punishment was administered to the smugglers.
Much of the phone traffic on the hotline this morning has been wrong numbers with an occasional crank phone call. Just after lunch, the hotline phone rings again. However this time the man on the other end provides Thang with detailed information about a shipment of wildlife being transported to Hanoi from central Vietnam. The caller, who does not want to give his name, provides Thang with the registration number of the truck and indicates that it will arrive at a guest house located at a specific address sometime in the early evening. Thang passes the information on to Van Anh, who contacts the National Forest Protection Department's Forest Crime Task Force.
Meanwhile Chi Hang is a bit frustrated with Environmental Police in a northern province over a case that came in a week ago involving a leopard cat being kept by a business. Chi Hang had called the Environmental Police in to confiscate the cat. However, the Environmental Police were slow to act, and reported back to Hang only yesterday that the leopard cat was no longer present at the establishment.
However, Thao sent a volunteer to check the business earlier in the morning, and the volunteer just called to say that the leopard cat was still present in the establishment. Disappointed with the performance of the Environmental Police, Hang now must contact an alternate government agency to try to deal with the case.
Van Anh, who once was the only case officer in the Wildlife Crime Unit when it started in January 2005, now deals only with high profile cases. She has seven tiger cases pending and has been working for months to try to convince the government to confiscated 80 illegal bears in Quang Ninh province. This morning, she calls National Assembly members to discuss the case, and prepares for an undercover investigation and surveillance in Quang Ninh province at major bear farms in cooperation with National Environmental Police.
n Hanoi. Positive outcomes in cases like this one really help motivate the team.
The loris was later turned over to the Endangered Primate Rescue Center.
It's after 6 P.M. in the Wildlife Crime department of ENV. Thao and Tam are finishing reports on closed cases and Chi Hang is still on the phone trying to ensure that the trade shipment reported earlier on the hotline will be intercepted. Nga has left to attend evening classes. Em Hang is working on some final changes to a new database system that will streamline case management. Van Anh looks in on the two Hangs, Tam, and Thao and urges everyone to go home for the day. Thao wants to set up her ' call backs' and pull her cases for the next morning before leaving. Everyone looks tired. They hope that tomorrow will bring a better day for Vietnam's wildlife.
Making a difference is never easy. But these young and energetic people are changing the world around them, mobilizing the public in a desperate battle to save Vietnam's wildlife, assisting the authorities with information and help on specific cases, and achieving genuine results that are sending a clear and profound message to people engaged in the illegal wildlife trade, ' Stop trading wildlife or face the consequences.'
To find out more about this HSI-funded project please visit Saving Vietnam's Wildlife website: http://www.savingvietnamswildlife.org/