After more than a decade of operation, ENV is accruing a growing list of achievements in the battle to protect Vietnam’s wildlife. The impact of its work can be seen across the three main program areas, and following are a few key highlights.
Established a means to encourage public reporting of wildlife crimes: In 2005, ENV established the toll-free National Wildlife Crime Hotline 1800 1522 to provide an independent means for the public to report crimes. ENV transfers information to the appropriate authorities and documents and tracks each case through to conclusion. Since 2005, ENV’s Wildlife Crime Unit has logged over 10,000 wildlife crime cases as of September 2016.
Bringing greater transparency to wildlife protection efforts: Previously, local authorities’ performance in dealing with wildlife crimes was largely unaccountable, including their response to public reports of violations, disposal of confiscated wildlife, and punishment administered to violators. Since ENV launched its Wildlife Crime Unit in 2005, it has acted as an independent “watchdog”, working with local authorities and tracking each case through to completion, achieving greater transparency and improved performance, which has led to a major transformation in wildlife protection efforts nationally.
Mobilized public action: In addition to encouraging the public to report wildlife crimes, ENV has established a national network of volunteers in urban centers throughout the country to actively help monitor business establishments and ensure compliance with wildlife protection laws. ENV’s National Wildlife Protection Network currently has over 6,000 volunteers in 59 provinces and active clubs in 17 cities (August 2016).
Closed major wildlife markets: ENV’s first major success combating wildlife crime was the closure of Dong Xuan wildlife market in Hanoi. Through sustained efforts and close cooperation with local authorities, ENV was able to close the wildlife market permanently in 2006, along with several smaller city markets where wildlife was sold. ENV continues to monitor Hanoi markets today to make sure violations do not resurface.
Successful outcomes on more than 3,000 cases: While not every case leads to a successful outcome, cases reported via the hotline and ENV’s work with local authorities have led to the confiscation of hundreds of endangered mammals, birds, and reptiles ranging from bears and marine turtles to leopard cats, lorises, and endangered gibbons and langurs. One case in 2007 led to the seizure and release of the last known living example of the world’s most critically endangered turtle, Swinhoe’s softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), caught by a fisherman in a lake west of Hanoi. Outcomes have also included the closure of businesses, confiscation of animal products such as rhino horn and ivory, voluntary transfers of live animals, and substantial fines administered to violators.
ENV facilitates cooperation and sharing of information between law enforcement agencies in Vietnam and in other countries on cases involving transnational crimes such as rhino horn and tiger smuggling. Cooperation has led to arrests in foreign countries on major ivory and pangolin cases, and contributed to investigations and prosecution on tiger and rhino horn smuggling cases.
Reaching millions through television: A total of 30 Public Service Announcements urging the public not to consume bear bile, rhino horn, or other wildlife products, have been produced and aired on national and provincial television and reached a large segment of Vietnam’s 90 million people. Many of these PSAs feature famous national music, film, and sports celebrities including ENV’s Wildlife Protection Ambassador, pop star My Linh.
On the air with ENV: Up until September 2016, ENV has aired more than 3,672 advertisements on the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) radio, reaching millions of listeners nationwide and urging people not to consume wildlife and to report wildlife crimes. ENV has also aired a VOV monthly radio show since 2005 on the illegal wildlife trade, discussing important issues such as rhino horn and tiger trade, highlighting recent news relating to enforcement, and encouraging the public not to consume wildlife.
Keeping issues hot in the media: ENV maintains a network of more than 553 national journalists and actively participates in almost-weekly television and print media interviews. ENV also produces press releases and statements on key issues, resulting in hundreds of articles and TV news stories each year through which ENV is able to convey our wildlife protection message to a broad cross-section of the public.
Interacting with people on the ground: ENV’s Mobile Awareness and Outreach Team has hosted more than 224 public events throughout the country aimed at encouraging the public not to consume wildlife products, and to get actively involved in wildlife protection. ENV has also conducted a total of 131 wildlife protection seminars at universities nationwide for more than an estimated 13,000 students, as well as hosted events focused on wildlife protection for local Communist Party, Youth Union, Tourist Guides, community leadership, and other special interest groups.
Ending bear farming and trade: ENV in partnership with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has led national efforts to reduce consumption of bear bile and bring an end to bear farming and trade in Vietnam. This major campaign involves a combination of enforcement measures focused on illegal trade in bears and bear products, legislative and policy interventions to close loopholes and strengthen laws, and awareness activities aimed at reducing consumer demand for bear bile. Some examples of major ENV events include:
- A poster competition focused on ending bear farming hosted by ENV resulted in more than 97,000 artwork entries, some of which are still used today in exhibits and for educational resources.
- More than 100,000 pledges have been collected from the public committing to not consume bear bile. ENV hosted the country’s first National Bear Day in September 2012 with 50 top national celebrities joining forces with ENV in calling for an end to bear farming in Vietnam.
- Since 2006, more than 581 public events focusing on bears have been held in markets, at universities, and in public forums.
Developing educational activities at Parks and Nature Reserves throughout Vietnam: ENV has conducted 75 environmental communication training courses for more than 1,100 park staff, teachers, and community stakeholders at 46 National Parks and Nature Reserves in Vietnam, as well as for educators from Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar (March 2013). ENV’s training programs have served to inspire the growth and sustainability of community-based awareness activities throughout the country. ENV has also been fortunate in its ability to support activities through more than 21 Green Grants awarded to inspiring awareness activities focused on communities bordering parks and protected areas throughout Vietnam. In partnership with local teachers, ENV staff members have delivered a total of 2,550 environmental awareness lesson plans to an estimated 75,500 middle school students.
ENV’s policy and legislative team has been instrumental in closing loopholes in national wildlife protection laws and securing favorable policy decisions on key issues concerning critically endangered species. For example:
- Enforcing the ban that prohibits owners from keeping illegal bears on farms after administrative fines have been issued.
- Bringing an end to the common practice of auctioning off tiger parts following seizure. Despite prohibition by the law, this was widely practiced prior to ENV’s intervention.
- Involvement in providing inputs and revisions to new legislation, including the recent successful reduction of the list of “common” wildlife species permitted to be farmed and exploited for commercial purposes from 353 species down to 160 species in a new circular issued in 2012.
- Securing favorable decisions from provincial leaders on dozens of top priority cases resulting in new precedents and support in addressing major crimes and disposition of confiscated wildlife.
- Working closely with the Drafting Board of Decree No. 103/2013/ND-CP (Decree 31 revision) under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to add the acts of raising and keeping endangered, rare and precious aquatic species into violations which are administratively sanctioned by the decree. In addition, the sanctioned levels were categorized according to protection level of species and quantity of specimens according to ENV's suggestions.