Wildlife Protection Law Resource Center
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty regulating the trade of endangered wildlife amongst countries to avoid over-exploitation that could lead to extinction. It does not regulate any forms of domestic trade. CITES includes about 5000 species of animals and 25,000 species of plants, divided into three appendices, which means that their trade is regulated through a standardized permit system:
- Appendix I includes endangered species threatened with extinction. Trade and exchange of these species requires an export license and import license issued by the CITES Management Authority of both the exporting and importing countries.
- Appendix II includes vulnerable species that could become extinct with uncontrolled exploitation. Trade in these species between countries requires an export license issued by the CITES Management Authority of the exporting country.
- Appendix III includes species protected from exploitation in at least one member country, which needs the cooperation of other member states to control the trade. Trade in these species requires an export license issued by CITES Management Authority of the exporting country.
Penal Code (2015)
Penal Code 100/2015/QH13, with the expected effective date in mid-2017, stipulates stricter criminal punishments to wildlife offenses under Article 234, 242 and 244. Apart from acts of hunting, catching, killing, rearing, caging, transporting and/or trading of endangered, precious and rare species, their body parts and products, the revised Code also includes possession as a criminal offense, closing a critical loophole that previously allowed criminals to escape with fines for keeping tigers, rhino horns, other endangered species and their products. Furthermore, the new Code also affords greater protection to species not listed on either Decree 160 or Appendix I of CITES, permitting authorities to impose criminal punishments on offenders in case of infringements involving large quantity of animals. Last but not least, Penal Code 2015 also allows the courts to sentence individual offenders to jail with a term of up to 15 years. Organizations committing wildlife will also be subject to a criminal fine of up to 15 billion VND (approximately $675,000 USD) or permanent suspension of operation. This is a substantial increase comparing to previous versions of the Code.
The Penal Code 15/1999/QH10 stipulated the crime of breaching regulations on the protection of precious and rare wildlife in Article 190. When the Penal Code was amended in 2009, Article 190 was adjusted into the crime of breaching regulations on the protection of animals in the list of endangered, precious, and rare species prioritized for protection. Accordingly, the acts of illegal hunting, killing, transporting, smuggling, raising and keeping of endangered, rare and precious wild animals prioritized for protection and the act of illegal transporting and smuggling of their products/ body parts are prohibited. The offenders shall be subject to a fine from 50 million VND to 500 million VND, non-custodial reform for up to three years or a prison term up to seven years.
All species of wild animals are afforded some level of protection under the Law on Forest Protection and Development, which came into effect from April 1, 2005. Accordingly, it’s illegal to hunt, transport, keep, advertise, sell, purchase and consume wildlife without an appropriate permit issued by the Forest Protection Department to show that the animal was of legal origin.
Law on Biodiversity (2008)
The Law 20/2008/QH12 on Biodiversity was promulgated by the National Assembly on November 13, 2008 and came into effect on July 1, 2009. This law has dedicated fourth chapters with 18 regulations on conservation and sustainable development of species. Accordingly, wild animals will be included in the list of endangered, precious and rare species prioritized for protection for the purpose of protecting endemic species, species threatened with extinction, species that are prohibited from exploitation, and wild species that need protection from exploitation in natural conditions. The law also prescribes regulations on protected areas, conservation areas and prohibited activities in protected areas.
Decree 32 is Vietnam’s primary wildlife protection decree. According to this decree, it is illegal to hunt, transport, keep, advertise, sell, purchase and consume rare and endangered species or their parts and derivatives.
The Decree has grouped endangered, precious and rare animals into two groups:
- Group IB: Includes endangered and critically endangered species. The exploitation and use of these species for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited. A permit is required for scientific research and conservation purposes of these species.
- Group IIB: Includes threatened and rare species. A permit is required for all purposes, including scientific research, conservation and commercial exploitation of these species.
Decree 82/2006/ND-CP dated August 10, 2006 by the Government on the Management of Export, Import, Re-export and Introduction from the Sea, Transit, Breeding, Rearing and Artificial Propagation of Endangered, Precious and Rare Wild Animals and Plants.
The decree stipulates specific procedures relating to export, import, re-export and introduction from the sea, transit, breeding, rearing and artificial propagation of animals and plants (including hybrids) of endangered, precious and rare species, including:
- Specimens of wild animals and plants specified in Appendices I, II and III of CITES; and
- Specimens of endangered, precious and rare wild animals and plants, as prescribed in Vietnamese law
The Decree became effective on January 1, 2014 and regulates a system of criteria to evaluate and identify which species shall be categorized in the list of endangered, rare and precious species prioritized for protection. Following that, species must satisfy the following criteria to be put in the list: (i) Quantity of individuals is few or in danger of extinction and (ii) Being endemic species, or having one of the special values related to science, medicine, economy, ecology, environmental landscape and culture-history.
The Decree also states all principles in protection of these species and sets up a tight mechanism to manage exploitation; exchange, trading, gift, hiring, storing, transporting of specimens; breeding and rescuing of the species.
According to the Decree, any persons committing acts of exploiting, trading, collecting, raising, keeping, pre-processing and processing endangered, rare, and precious species or exploiting, collecting, pre-processing, processing and transporting aquatic species prohibited from exploitation shall be administratively fined up to 100 million VND for individuals or 200 million VND for organizations. The amount of fine depends on the quantity of aquatic species being violated.
All aquatic species shall be confiscated and released back to their habitat (if alive) or transferred to competent authorities (if dead).
Decree 157/2013/ND-CP dated November 11, 2013 by the Government on administrative sanctions imposed on violations with respect to forest control, forest development, forest protection and forest product management
According to the Decree, the acts to be administratively sanctioned include: (1) Hunting, trapping, catching, killing animals; (2) extracting derivatives of animals; (3) transporting animals, parts/derivatives of animals; (4) purchasing, selling, keeping, processing animals, parts/derivatives of animals; (5) commercial advertising of wild animals; and (6) legally purchasing, selling, keeping, processing animals, parts/derivatives of animals but violating the procedure. Based on the nature and extent of danger of the violation, there is a range of fines from 500 thousand VND up to 500 million VND for individuals. The maximum punishment for organizations are doubled those for individuals.
The Decree regulates administrative sanctions imposed on violations with respect to environmental protection. The act of keeping parts or products of endangered species prioritized to protection (species listed in Decree 160/2013/ND-CP) shall be fined up to 500 million VND for individuals and 1 billion VND for organizations; and all exhibits need to be confiscated accordingly.
The new Decree replacing Decree 179 from February 1, 2017 provides administrative sanctions imposed on persons illegally harvesting wildlife in strictly protected areas and persons violating regulations on management of conservation facilities.
The Decision prohibits import, export, and trade of wildlife specimens of white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), and African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and products/derivatives from these aforementioned species.
Joint Circular 19/2007/TTLT/BNN&PTNT-BTP-BCA-VKSNDTC-TANDTC dated March 8, 2007 on Guiding Application of the Penal Code in Forest Management, Protection and Management of Forest Products
This Joint Circular guides the implementation of Article 190 of the Penal Code 1999 on Breaching the Regulations on the Protection of Precious and Rare Wildlife. It is related to the species of precious and rare animals included in Group IB of Decree 32. It guides the evaluation of the specific level of a violation so as to apply appropriate and reasonable punishments. The Circular includes an Appendix on the determination of the number of individual animals from the endangered, precious, and rare species list and Group IB as the basis for determination. For example, for violations relating to bears, a crime involving one bear has serious consequences, two to three bears - very serious consequences, and four bears upwards - extremely serious consequences, whilst a crime involving just one tiger has already been deemed resulting in extremely serious consequences.
Decision 82/2008/QD-BNN dated July 17, 2008 by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on issuance of list of Vietnam’s endangered aquatic species that need to be protected, rehabilitated and developed
This Decision issued a list of endangered aquatic species that should be strictly protected under current legislation. The list is based on the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – Version 2.2, 1994 and also Vietnam’s Red Data Book (version 2007) to evaluate the critical level of endangered species as Extinct (EX), Extinct in the wild (EW); Critically endangered (CR); Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU).
Wild animals confiscated from illegal activities must be handled according to the order specified in this circular, based on the level of endangered and rare grouping (IB, IIB, Appendix I of CITES, Appendix II of CITES, or common wild animals). The handling is also based on the status of the animals: alive, dead, in parts, domestic or introduced species.
For example, a live, domestic animal belonging to Group IB, would be processed in the following order: (i) Release to the wild; (ii) Transfer to an animal rescue center if injured, sick or weak; (iii) Transfer to scientific research institution (including breeding research facility) for environmental education; (iv) Sale to zoos, performing arts organizations, or any legal animal breeding facilities; (v) Destruction of animals carrying diseases or that cannot be handled by the above measures.
For cases where the animal is dead or in parts, and belonging to Group IB: (i) Transfer to a scientific institution, training institution, environmental education institution, specialized museum, specialized management agency, or to a medical facility for research or to make medicine; (ii) Destruction of the body/parts in cases of infection or where it cannot be handled by the above measures.
Circular 47/2012/TT-BNNPTNT dated September 25, 2012 by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Regulating the Management of the Exploitation and Farming of Common Wildlife Species
On September 25, 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued Circular 47/2012/TT-BNNPTNT on the management and exploitation of common wildlife species. This circular lists 160 species of common forest animals of which exploitation and farming are permitted for commercial purposes, according to the provisions set out in this Circular.
Circular 25/2016/TT-BTNMT dated September 22, 2016 by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on Guiding samples of registration paper, certificate of conservation facility and report on status of endangered species prioritized for protection at conservation facility
This Circular provides guidance on paperwork and procedures necessary for establishment and operation of conservation facilities.
In 2005, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued the Decision to manage bears in captivity. This Decision aims to manage the number of bears in captivity and prevent the introduction of new bears caught in the wild.
The Decision also states that the cut-off for registration of captive bears was February 28, 2005. From March 1, 2015 onwards, any unregistered bears will be treated as new, illegally farmed bears and will be dealt with according to the regulations of the law.
This Decision contains provisions on housing conditions, hygiene, veterinary and other conditions for registered bear farms. It also prohibits the acts of hunting, trapping, purchase, sale, slaughter, transport, advertising, export, import, and temporary import for re-export of bears and bear products derived contrary from the provisions of the law.
The Directive urged relevant parties to prevent and combat crimes involving products of endangered species, including ivory and rhino horn. Through this Directive, the Prime Minister requests ministries and provincial-level agencies to continue strictly implementing Directive 03/TT-TTg dated February 20, 2014 on guiding and implementing controlling and protecting measures towards endangered species.
Vietnam's Ministry of Health officially bans the use of rare and endangered wildlife products in cosmetics. All cosmetic businesses must stop selling, importing, and producing cosmetic products that contain endangered species prioritized for protection.
The correspondence, resulting from the consultation amongst the Supreme Procuracy, Supreme Court and Ministry of Public Security, instructed all procuracies to resolve all pending ivory/rhino horn related cases by applying Clause 1 of Article 155 of the Penal Code 2009.
These are the guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on the handling of live wild animals after confiscation, for the purposes of conservation.
Accordingly, there are several solutions:
1) To maintain the animals in captivity for the remainder of their natural lives;
2) To return the animals to the wild;
3) To euthanize the animals, i.e. humanely destroy them
The guidelines also describe processing and handling rules, decision-tree analysis to evaluate the application of a solution to the current regulations, customs and economic conditions while ensuring the conservation of the species.