US-backed project strengthens Vietnam’s wildlife protection


Minh Nga, VN Express

Date Published
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A U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project has helped strengthen wildlife protection system and reduce demand for wildlife in Vietnam, officials said.
USAID and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development celebrated the completion of the USAID Saving Species project Friday.

Over the past five years, the project, which cost an estimated $9.9 million, has supported the Vietnamese government to improve and harmonize the legal system related to wildlife protection, strengthen law enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes, and reduce demand and illegal consumption of wildlife, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy.

The project has supported the development, amendment and adoption of four important legal documents that are key to ensuring consistent management and protection of wildlife in Vietnam, resolving legal gaps and overlapping regulations.

Via the project, more than 2,600 officials from agencies including forestry protection departments, customs officials, environmental police, wet market managers, border guards, courts, and prosecutors have been trained to more effectively tackle wildlife crimes.

As a result, prosecution rates for wildlife violation arrests have increased from 25 percent in 2018 to 75 percent in 2021.

In coordination with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Management Authority of Vietnam, the project ran three large social behavior change communication campaigns that raised public awareness on wildlife protection legislation, targeting consumers of ivory, rhino horn and pangolin products, and encouraged traditional medicine practitioners to reduce their use of wildlife products for health treatments.

Those campaigns reached tens of millions of people with messages about protecting wildlife and reducing the demand for wildlife products and resulted in millions of online interactions.

“USAID is proud to support Vietnam to reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, build wildlife law enforcement and prosecution capacity, as well as augment and harmonize the legal framework for combating wildlife crime in Vietnam.

We are very pleased to see the cooperation between the two countries through this project has brought meaningful results. Vietnam is a critical partner of the U.S. for countering wildlife trafficking,” said USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Ann Marie Yastishock at an event held virtually Friday.

Le Quoc Doanh, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “The joint effort of USAID and the Vietnamese government through USAID Saving Species project has contributed significantly to protect wildlife species and maintain important eco-services for national and regional sustainable socio-economic development.”

Vietnam is one of the destinations and transit countries for illegal African rhino horn, elephant ivory, and pangolin scales.

Demand for wildlife in Vietnam is driven by strong cultural norms that encourage consumption of wildlife for prestige and by erroneous traditional beliefs regarding health benefits.