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Seven bears from two farms in Binh Duong have safely arrived at Four Paws’ Bear Sanctuary in Ninh Binh. Today’s transfer is a result of the owners deciding to give their bears a better life outside the confines of a cage, following in the footsteps of many other ex-bear farmers across the country.
In addition to the seven bears transferred today, six bears were transferred in October 2020, and another two were transferred on November 3rd in Phu Tho province, totaling 15 bears surrendered to rescue centers since October 1, 2020.
“Over the past few years, we have witnessed many bear owners transferring their bears to sanctuaries,” says Vu Thi Quyen, Executive Director of ENV. “ENV will continue to work hard to encourage other bear owners across the country to do the same until there are no more bears caged at bear bile farms in Vietnam.”
More than 4,300 bears were discovered at bear bile farms across Vietnam in 2005. By November 2020, this number has decreased to less than 400 individuals, and 60% of Vietnam’s provinces are now bile bear-free. This progress has been possible thanks to many years of hard work from the government, law enforcement authorities, the public, and a number of NGOs in Vietnam.
The Bear Coalition in Vietnam, comprised of ENV, World Animal Protection, and Four Paws International, is calling on the provincial leaders of remaining bear bile provinces to take strong measures to expedite an end to bear bile farming in their provinces. Authorities in bear bile provinces should encourage local bear owners to turn over their bears and strictly punish those who trade or exploit bears for their bile. Aggressive action and punishment will effectively deter others from doing the same and contribute to the nation’s efforts to make Vietnam a bear bile-free country.
The Bear Coalition also calls on all bear owners across Vietnam, especially in Hanoi – the country’s biggest hotspot for bear bile farming – to follow in the footsteps of ex-bear owners who have voluntarily turned over their bears.
“The time has come for remaining bear owners to join the rest of the country in making sure this embarrassing and cruel remnant of the past is completely eliminated from Vietnam’s progressing society,” says ENV Executive Director, Vu Thi Quyen.
Today, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) releases its second “Never Again” Public Service Announcement (PSA). The film portrays life in Vietnam during the Covid-19 shutdown, and encourages the public to take action to ensure another pandemic is never again possible.
The PSA begins with familiar scenes during the 2020 pandemic of an eerily empty city, quickly building in speed and intensity – similar to the pandemic itself. Almost a year since the origin of the destructive coronavirus, the world is still reeling from the catastrophic effects. More than one million people have already lost their lives, the global economy has been severely impacted, and governments have spent trillions of dollars working to contain and eliminate the virus.
Covid-19 may be the latest deadly disease originating from wildlife, but it’s not unprecedented. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, about 70% of all infectious diseases over the last 30 years have been zoonotic, including HIV/AIDS, avian influenza, swine flu, SARS, Ebola, MERS, and now Covid-19. At this rate, we are bound to see more zoonotic outbreaks within our lifetime, unless we change now.
“The government of Vietnam has responded remarkably to the outbreak, not only in protecting the public from large-scale contagion, but also declaring stronger action to fight Vietnam’s illegal wildlife trade,” says Nguyen Phuong Dung, ENV’s Vice Director.
However, Dung warns, “While life may appear to have returned to normality in Vietnam, it is important that we do not forget the serious threat that Covid-19 and other viral diseases from animals pose to our health and safety, as well as the substantial economic losses we have faced from closure of businesses and fighting the pandemic.”
ENV’s “Never Again” PSA is part of ENV’s “Never Again” campaign, launched in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The campaign calls upon the public to take drastic measures to permanently eliminate consumption and trade of wildlife. Since the first Covid-19 Public Service Announcement (PSA) in April, ENV has broadcast “Never Again” messages on over 60 news channels, including major channels such as VTV1, VTV2, VTV3, and VTV6, as well as in residential and commercial building elevators, on buses and trains, and virally on social media.
At the top of the list is the need to initiate aggressive police investigations that target the leadership of wildlife trafficking networks, with the aim of arresting and prosecuting the leaders of these criminal enterprises and dismantling their operations permanently.
In addition to taking down wildlife trafficking kingpins, other critical interventions include strengthening deterrence to reduce crime, addressing abuse within the commercial wildlife farming industry, eradicating corruption within the criminal justice system, and putting an end to bear farming.
“Vietnam has made substantial progress on all ten priorities in recent years,” says Vu Thi Quyen, ENV’s Founder and Executive Director. “There are positive developments on all fronts. Now, the task at hand is to maintain momentum and continue aggressively down this path, to the point where Vietnam is no longer a major consumer of wildlife, nor a trafficking hub for the region.”
Quyen believes this goal is not only realistic, but achievable. “Look at how the criminal justice system has applied the revised Penal Code,” says Quyen. “Criminals are going to prison for their crimes, and among them are the leaders of four major trafficking networks.”
“We have a lot to do ahead of us, and some major obstacles to overcome, but we have already accomplished a great deal of progress.”
Tackling corruption within the criminal justice system remains one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in the battle to combat wildlife trafficking in Vietnam. Whether corruption involves passage of goods through ports or airports, issuance of permits to commercial farms, or allowing criminals to escape capture, prosecution, or imprisonment, corruption undermines the law, and in doing so, undermines the health of society and effectiveness of government.
In addition to eliminating corruption, one of the new critical actions in 2020 reflects the need to address the serious human health and safety risks posed by animal-borne viruses like Covid-19. While ENV strongly supports current efforts to eliminate wildlife trade and consumption as called for by the Prime Minister, ENV goes on to urge policy-makers, key ministries, provincial governments, and other government agencies to share the responsibility of increasing public awareness about the deadly effects of wildlife trade and consumption, reinforcing national efforts to curb consumer demand and reduce the risk of future outbreaks.
“We believe Vietnam is on many fronts a leader in Southeast Asia in efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, and we’re proud of the progress that has been accomplished,” states Quyen. “Success is within our grasp if we can remain focused and committed to addressing these ten critical actions for Vietnam.”
Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) has published the Prosecution Review for Wildlife Crime in Vietnam from 2015 to 2020, reflecting the performance of Vietnam’s criminal justice system in implementing the 2015 Penal Code (amended in 2017) and prosecuting wildlife trafficking cases.
ENV has analyzed 552 wildlife trafficking cases that occurred between 2015 and 2020, the results of which show a positive and upward trend in the nation’s efforts to combat wildlife crime following implementation of the revised Penal Code in 2018. From January 2018 to the end of 2019, the number of wildlife trafficking seizures increased 44% while the percent of seizures resulting in arrests remained consistent from 2015 to 2019 at 86.7%. However, during the first six months of 2020, the percentage of trafficking cases resulting in arrest jumped to 97%.
“ENV’s prosecution analysis attests to the strength of the current Penal Code and the elevated efforts of Vietnam’s law enforcement and criminal justice courts to take down wildlife criminals,” says Bui Thi Ha, ENV’s Vice Director & Head of Policy and Legislation Department. “Since the new law has been in force, and especially this year in 2020, evidence shows that wildlife trafficking crimes are being taken more seriously in Vietnam.”
For example, in 2015, 45.8% of wildlife court cases led to one or more subjects sentenced to prison. However, this percentage has increased steeply in 2020, as numbers show 67.9% of all convictions in wildlife trafficking cases have resulted in prison sentences this year.
Additionally, in 2015 the average prison sentence imposed in a wildlife trafficking cases was 0.98 years. At present, the 2020 average prison sentence for wildlife crime stands at 4.49 years, a 358% increase over 2015.
“The trends we’re seeing in the analysis of wildlife prosecutions over the last six years illustrate the increasingly aggressive approach to tackling Vietnam’s illegal wildlife trade,” said Mrs. Ha. “ENV commends law enforcement authorities, courts, procuracies, and decision-makers for amending the Penal Code and enforcing its implementation so rigorously,” added Mrs. Ha.
While progress is clear, it is important to understand Vietnam is far from the finish line in terms of ending the illegal wildlife trade. ENV’s Prosecution Review highlights major obstacles that lay ahead in efforts to successfully tackle wildlife trafficking in Vietnam. These critical challenges include a) eradicating corruption from within the ranks of the criminal justice system, b) initiating strategic investigations targeting wildlife criminal leaders, c) identifying, arresting, and prosecuting the owners of major wildlife shipments arriving at ports and airports in Vietnam, and d) creative utilization of other approaches to target criminal enterprises and their leadership such as anti-money laundering laws or tax evasion.
“Vietnam has come a long way in strengthening wildlife protection, and as a country we can be proud of the combined efforts of government officials, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and the courts who have collectively advanced efforts to combat wildlife crime,” Ha asserts. “Now, our efforts need to focus on maintaining momentum while taking the offensive to eliminate criminal enterprises that traffic wildlife by targeting their leadership with arrest and prosecution.”
Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) has released their newest campaign film, titled Macaques Are Not Pets, to tackle the widespread demand for macaques in Vietnam’s illegal pet trade.
ENV’s “Macaques are not pets” campaign is their first to focus on macaques exclusively, and is a direct response to the rise in macaque crimes which have overwhelmed both law enforcement and wildlife facilities in Vietnam.
“Macaques in Vietnam are extensively poached from the wild and sold to households, restaurants, hotels, cafes, and other businesses who use these wild animals as attractions and entertainment, or pets,” says Bui Thi Ha, ENV’s Vice Director & Head of Policy and Legislation Department. “The problem has become increasingly evident to ENV through public reports of the sale, advertisement, and possession of macaques, both physically and online.”
ENV’s Macaques Are Not Pets campaign film features a heartbreaking sequence of photos which illustrate the large-scale exploitation that macaques are facing across Vietnam as demand for them remains rampant. The images have been collected from real cases reported to ENV’s Wildlife Crime Unit from members of the public, bringing the harsh reality of macaque trafficking and exploitation to the forefront of Vietnamese society.
The film intentionally captures the distressing truth for macaques in Vietnam in an effort to effectively reduce consumer demand for macaques as pets. By deterring individuals from participating in macaque exploitation and encouraging witnesses to report macaques to ENV’s Wildlife Crime Hotline, ENV aims to turn “macaques are not pets” from phrase to fact in Vietnam.
In addition to the Macaques Are Not Pets campaign film, ENV has also recently completed a 10-year review of all ENV recorded macaque cases, Summary of Macaque Crime in Vietnam. The purpose of the summary is to highlight the magnitude of crimes involving macaques being kept as pets.
“The high number of macaque crimes discovered through ENV’s decade-long evaluation represents the urgent need to crack-down on consumer demand for macaques, the main objective of ENV’s campaign,” says Bui Thi Ha. “The people of Vietnam must recognize the demand for macaques is not only out of control, but illegal.”
From January 1, 2010 to May 31, 2020, ENV calculated 2,967 individual macaque violations reported to ENV’s Wildlife Crime Unit, representing both physical crimes and internet crimes involving possession, selling, advertising, and trafficking of macaques or macaque parts and products. Notably, Vietnam’s southern provinces exceeded the northern provinces in reported macaque crimes, and Ho Chi Minh City led the country with 78 possession cases resulting in the confiscation of 92 macaques.
ENV’s “Macaques are not pets” campaign was originally launched in March 2020 through a series of ENV visual content which illustrated captive macaques and the message “Macaques are not pets”. The original content has been shared virally to millions of people and was displayed on LCD screens in apartment buildings throughout Hanoi, airing 17 million times per day.
“Exploitation of macaques must be taken seriously by authorities and individuals in Vietnam in order to eliminate this uncontrolled demand and trade of macaques,” concludes Ha. “Macaques are wild animals; macaques are not pets.”
Hanoi, July 29, 2020 – Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) has just released their latest Public Service Announcement (PSA) in celebration of International Tiger Day on July 29th. The PSA, titled Superstitious, brings the audience face-to-face with superstitions still common in Vietnam, some harmless, and others destroying Earth’s wildlife.
Superstitious engages the audience through jovial characters and a lighthearted mood as a Vietnamese family goes about their day. As the first day of the lunar month, it’s a very superstitious time, and the viewer is taken on a comical journey from one superstition to the next.
“This PSA aims to appeal to a wider audience by using humor to capture people’s attention,” says Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, ENV’s Vice Director. “The continued use of tiger bone glue in Vietnam is a serious concern, however, we can captivate more minds by presenting the problem from a different perspective that is easier for the public to relate to.”
For many viewers in Vietnam, it’s relatable to watch family members behave superstitiously, just as the son in the PSA watches and judges his family’s irrational habits. The turning point culminates when the son, who thought of himself as the most logical of the family, brings home tiger bone medicine “for health”. To the son’s surprise, the family is quick to condemn his outdated belief that tiger bone glue could improve health, concluding the PSA with a message to the audience that tiger bone glue has no proven medicinal value whatsoever.
In the last 18 months, ENV documented 652 tiger violations through their Wildlife Crime Unit. Violations include advertising, selling, possessing, and trafficking tiger bone glue, as well as tiger claws, teeth, organs, and skin. There were also a number of cases involving the trafficking of live and dead tigers. Demand for tiger bone glue is driving the continued slaughter of tigers, for no other reason than a falsely-held belief.
“As long as this archaic belief still exists, tigers will continue to be slaughtered every day,” says Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung. “To save the last few tigers in the wild, each member of the public needs to take action and speak out against friends and family who condone or continue to use tiger products for unfounded beliefs.”
This PSA is part of ENV’s long-term efforts to reduce consumer demand for products made from tigers and combat the illegal tiger trade. The new PSA will be aired on national and provincial television channels in Vietnam, and displayed on Vietnam’s national railway, reaching millions of people travelling through rural and urban areas. It will also be broadcast virally through ENV’s social media channels.
ENV would like to thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FOUR PAWS International for their contributions to produce this PSA. ENV also thanks the local and national TV stations and RailTV for broadcasting this important message to the people of Vietnam.
Hanoi, July 21, 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has shattered the world, resulting in the loss of more than 600,000 human lives so far and putting the world’s population at risk. The pandemic has also wreaked havoc on the global economy, impacting commerce and trade, closing businesses, putting people out of work, and costing governments trillions of dollars to respond to the crisis.
Covid-19 is the latest deadly disease suspected to have originated from wildlife. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, about 70% of all infectious diseases over the last 30 years are zoonotic, including HIV/AIDS, avian influenza, swine flu, SARS, Ebola, and MERS.
In response to the global crisis, ENV has launched the “NEVER AGAIN” campaign, calling on the Vietnamese government and the public to take drastic measures to eliminate the illegal wildlife trade and curb the demand for wildlife.
As part of the “NEVER AGAIN” campaign, ENV released its first Covid-19 Public Service Announcement (PSA) in April, which has been featured on major national TV channels and continues to air on more than 50 channels throughout the country. From April to June, ENV and media partners Goldsun Focus Media and Chicilon Media broadcasted ENV’s messages on thousands of screens in apartment building elevators to reach more than 17 million airings daily.
This week, ENV released a new VLOG, also titled “NEVER AGAIN”, where ordinary people share their real-life experiences about the effects that Covid-19 has had on their lives and what they believe can be done to prevent the next pandemic.
Moreover, ENV’s “NEVER AGAIN” campaign includes viral posts and media, including infographics, polls, targeted ads, and the results of an online survey, all aimed at making the mantra “NEVER AGAIN” part of the Vietnamese consciousness and encouraging action against the wildlife trade. Additionally, another “NEVER AGAIN”-themed Public Service Announcement (PSA) film is currently in production and set to be released later this year. The message will also be integrated in public exhibits hosted by ENV’s Wildlife Protection Volunteer Clubs in urban cities.
“We commend the exceptional containment of Covid-19 from the Vietnamese government to protect the Vietnamese public; however, we must also take proactive measures to permanently eliminate the threat” says Nguyen Phuong Dung, ENV’s Vice Director. “Never again should we be exposed to the risk of disease originating from the wildlife trade.”
ENV calls upon the public to avoid unnecessary exposure to wildlife. “Be healthy and safe by avoiding contact with wild animals or frequenting restaurants where wildlife is advertised or sold,” says Dung.
ENV also urges the government to aggressively eliminate potential high-risk hotspots for zoonotic disease transmission. This includes restaurants and markets that advertise or sell wildlife and residences that keep wildlife, either as pets or on a wildlife farm. As a nation, we can reverse the public’s growing interest in keeping wild animals as pets and actively enforce better management of thousands of wildlife farms across the country, many of which are disguises for laundering animals that originate from the wild.
ENV’s efforts will continue for as long as necessary to protect Vietnam’s wellbeing by effectively eliminating the risks posed by the trade and consumption of wildlife.
ENV wishes to thank NGO partners Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and World Animal Protection, as well as national and provincial TV stations for their ongoing support. ENV also acknowledges leading Vietnamese media companies Chicilon Media, Goldsun Focus Media, and Saga Media for their generous assistance in making ENV’s wildlife conservation messaging available to the broader public. Through the combined efforts of supporters and the individual actions of all Vietnamese citizens, we can make sure another zoonotic global pandemic is never again possible.
Vietnam has been ranked the 16th most biologically diverse country in the world! Diverse ecosystems provide clean water, soil stability, buffers against storms and climate shocks as well as a basis for tourism. Biodiversity conservation is an essential component of achieving sustainable, resilient development. This Biodiversity Week we are celebrating Vietnam’s biodiversity status with 16 facts!
On the mainland, there are 15.986 species of flora and 10% among them are endemic species. As for fauna, or more commonly known as animals, there are more than 100 endemic species of birds alone, and almost 80 types of mammals! Vietnam is home to 30 National Parks with more animal species than popular safari destinations such as Kenya and Tanzania.
Vietnam’s territory expands just 330,000 square kilometers, but is home to several ecosystems such as terrestrial ecosystems, wetland ecosystems and marine ecosystems.
Terrestrial ecosystems consist of forests , agriculture and urban areas. Which in Vietnam often encroach on one another, resulting in many of the difficulties of wildlife protection. In agricultural and urban areas, ecosystems are more stressed due to artificial management and monoculture resulting in less biodiversity.
About 75% of Vietnam is mountain and hills, much of which is covered in tropical evergreen forests. These give Vietnam it’s reputation for being lush and green!
Pictured below are the rolling hills of tea plantations.
Marine ecosystems in Vietnam expand across 1, 000, 000 square kilometers making marine resources abundant. An estimated 11 000 species occupying 20 marine ecosystems make up the coastline surrounding Vietnam.
Wetland ecosystems in Vietnam are diverse and have unique features based on their geographical location. Wetland habitats of Vietnam include coastal mangroves, peat swamps, lagoons, coral reefs, and the sea surrounding coastal islands. In coastal mangroves you will find an array of animals including birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles many of which migrate to these areas seasonally. Coastal lagoons are home to many species which dwell in freshwater, salt water and brackish habitats, which are common sights along the coast of Vietnam.
Vietnam boasts exemplary biodiversity, but despite this wildlife tourism remains low – a near untouched resource. Wildlife trafficking however is one of the biggest black market activities in Vietnam. Trafficking is executed so efficiently, that many of Vietnam’s forests are near empty of the local animals that should be rife.
In one remote national reserve in Quang Nam province, specifically created for the Saola, also known as the Asian unicorn, (pictured below) 23, 000 fatal snares were found in a single year. As fast as they can be confiscated they are laid down. Hunting such as this is the primary threat to Vietnam’s fast diminishing biodiversity.
Deforestation and urbanisation are two major threats to biodiversity in Vietnam.
Forests in Vietnam, which once covered the entire country have not been immune to the degradation seen across the world. Due to the booming economy and forever encroaching urban and agricultural areas the lush evergreen forests of Vietnam have reduced alarmingly.
Between 1943 and 1991, forest cover decreased from 67% to 29% of Vietnam’s total area. At least 12.6 million ha of forest, including 8.0 million ha in Southern Vietnam, have been lost. The northern mountains experienced the greatest decline, with forest cover dropping from 95% to 17% in only 48 years.
As the economy has boomed, demand for timber has increased exponentially – both for foreign and domestic use. In 1986 economic reforms initiated in Vietnam placed emphasis on logging as a primary economic activity, placing it as the third greatest export after agricultural and light industry products.
The greatest casualty of economic success will always be the environment, and Vietnam’s species have been at the front line.
For many older generations in Vietnam, wildlife is seen not as something to be protected, but a resource for all to use. As a historically agrarian and subsitant, the people of Vietnam still see nature as a resource to be used. However with modernization and exploding populations across the country, natural wildlife resources cannot keep up with demand and beliefs such as this have resulted in the eradication of wildlife.
Cultural myths cause surviving wildlife to be exploited and abused for their parts, some are ancient, others have been adapted to suit a modern context. Some of these myths include: Bear bile for curing cancer, rhino horn for a hangover or loris (pictured) bile to ease the suffering caused by respiratory infections from Vietnam’s air pollution.
Wildlife consumption as food no longer stems from necessity, but from the desire to flaunt status. In an economy that is booming and an increase in wealth among the population, symbols of wealth and status become more attractive and competitive.
Urban restaurants are largely responsible for this, on a scale that has wiped out entire populations of species. Turtles, pangolins, rats, snakes, monkeys are but a few of the animals captured, slaughtered and consumed by humans in their quest for social status.
Rice wine is a drink consumed commonly across Vietnam and is made with a variety of flavours – from plum to snake, apricot to tiger. Pictured here are seahorses that have been captured and cured to be consumed on a special occasion.
Cúc Phương was the first established national park in Vietnam! Opened in 1962 in the northern province of Ninh Binh it was devoted to President Ho Chi Minh who believed that “the current destruction of our forests will lead to serious effects on climate, productivity and life.”
This park is famous for its rocky outcrops of limestone mountains, and is covered in thick forest which creates the home for some of Vietnam’s rarest wildlife. The ancient forest harbours over 122 species of reptiles and amphibians, 135 species mammals and 336 bird species which once included the Clouded Leopard, Delacour’s Langur, Owston’s Civet and Asian Black Bear, but unfortunately despite efforts are impossibly rare if not disappeared altogether in the wild. Here you can also find archeological evidence of ancient sea reptiles and prehistoric peoples.
This park has a number of rescue centres including the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Carnivore & Pangolins Conservation Program, Turtle Conservation Centre and a Botanical Garden.
Photo taken from http://cucphuongtourism.com.vn/
Cat Tien National Park, situated in the south region of Vietnam, is one of Vietnam’s most important and largest national parks protecting one of the largest areas of lowland tropical forests in the country.
Parts of the park have still not recovered from the defoliant herbicides (more commonly associated with Agent Orange) that were sprayed during the Vietnam War. Since then the park continued to suffer from logging until the 1990s.
In 1992, a population of Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros was discovered in the surrounding area which is now known as Cat Loc. Sadly the last Rhino in the park was shot in 2010 by poachers.
Despite its challenging history, the park is still home to 40 IUCN Red List species, and protects around 30% of Vietnam’s species. Huge efforts in recent decades to improve management and increase donations from international sources have lead the park to recovery and development of rescue centres for the surrounding wildlife. .
Up next is Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, part of the Annamites eco-region. 92.2% is covered with primary forest and it is also home to Son Doong Cave – the world’s largest natural cave. It’s so big it has its own river, jungle and climate.
As one of the best preserved parks and least touched by development, Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng has earned a place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sixty-six animal species found here are listed in the Vietnam’s Red Data Book and twenty three are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. This impressive park is home to the largest number of Vietnam’s langur species and has 10 species and subspecies of other endangered primates such as macaques and gibbon. Ten animal species never seen before in Vietnam were discovered by scientists in this national park.
The park is also famous for its plethora of caves and grottos which has attracted much tourist attention in recent years. The increased traffic has resulted in pollution and degradation to the natural spectacles that make this park such a treasure. Ethical tourism is key to preserving habitats and biodiversity!
Cat Ba National Park is situated in northern Vietnam and is located in a group of some 366 islands of the Cat Ba Archipelago.
This UNESCO world Heritage Site is home to one of the world’s rarest primates, the white headed langur, otherwise known as the Cat Ba Langur and doesn’t fail to deliver on it’s biodiversity. This park is unique in housing a great variety of ecosystems such as tropical rain forest on karst mountains, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, caves and grottos. It is world famous and attracts vast numbers of tourists annually.
Say hello to the Vietnamese Mossy Frog!
Despite its frightening appearance, this amphibian scares quite easily! When startled, this species will curl into a ball and play dead.
Even though these frogs are well camouflaged, they’re still caught by humans due to their demand in the international pet trade. But we know they’re so much more valuable in the wild! At different stages of their life cycle they play both predator and prey, maintaining the delicate balance of their habitats which are already threatened by encroaching urban and human activity.
The Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is an impressive bird! The heaviest and most brightly coloured of the hornbill family, it boasts a bright black and yellow casque on the top of its head. It’s seems to serve no other purpose than sexual selection, although it gives the Great Hornbill it’s distinctive appearance.
On May 19th, a local man in Thua Thien Hue province contacted ENV after a strange bird flew into his garden and became entangled in his hencoop. The man had never seen this bird before, so after untangling the struggling bird, he searched the Internet and quickly found that it was a great hornbill (Buceros bicornis).
The great hornbill is an endangered species, protected under Decree 64 and Group IB of Decree 06 by Vietnamese law. ENV’s crime unit contacted Phu Loc District FPD immediately and urged a timely response due to the animal’s endangered status. FPD received the bird and are preparing to release it back into nature! What a perfect way to celebrate Biodiversity Week!
The last Javan rhino in Vietnam was poached in 2010. It’s carcass was found in the Cat Tien National park with it’s horn hacked off.
Now all remaining 58-68 individuals of Javan rhino live in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
Organizations around the world, such as Save the Rhino International and International Rhino Foundation, are fighting to preserve these majestic creatures because every animal plays an integral part in our complex ecosystems, whether minute or monolithic.
The largest fish on Earth, the whale shark is a docile member of the shark family. Found in warm seas around the world, this massive vertebrate can regularly be spotted in the South China Sea which wraps itself around Vietnam.
These sharks are mostly threatened by fishermen, getting caught in nets as they try to feed or being struck by vessels when close to the surface. Unlike their more feisty cousins, they are not hunted for food, which is a relief considering the popularity of dishes such as shark fin across Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Sadly however, they are still endangered and the extinction of these gentle giants would be a great loss to the biodiversity of the seas.
Registered Wildlife Farm Busted for Laundering Wildlife
On May 12, 2020, the Provincial People’s Court of Quang Nam sentenced Pham Thi Thuan to 5 years in prison and 60 million VND for laundering wildlife through her licensed wildlife farm in Thanh Binh district of Quang Nam province.
Two years ago, on May 8, 2018, authorities searched the address of Ms. Pham Thi Thuan’s registered wildlife farm and confiscated 13 king cobras, 8 Bengal monitors, nearly 300 turtles including 18 big-headed turtles, and many other rare wildlife species. Prior to that, Thuan was fined twice in 2011 and 2013 for illegally possessing wildlife that was not bred in the captivity of her farm but sourced illegally from the wild.
In December 2019, Thuan was sentenced to 2 years in prison for her illegal activity. However, through ENV intervention and an appeal to Quang Nam court for a longer sentence, her time in prison was lengthened to 5 years.
This news story has been picked up by The Independent, featured in this article.
Pangolin Trafficking Kingpin and Accomplices Sentenced to Hard Time in Prison
On May 13, 2020, Tran Quy, Director of Hai Dang., Ltd, was sentenced to 13 years in prison and 100 million VND by the Provincial People’s Court of Ca Mau for running a pangolin trafficking network through the ruse of an ecotourism business. His accomplices also received prison terms. Nguyen Hai Nam was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 50 million VND, Le Viet Linh received 10 years in prison, and Ngo Vu Lam was sentenced to 2 years in prison for abusing his position as a Forest Protection Officer to create fraudulent legal papers for Tran Quy’s business.
In January 2018, Dat Mui Border Guard seized 114 Sunda pangolins and more than 300kg of Sunda pangolin scales on an unregistered ship belonging to Hai Dang., Ltd. Further investigation showed that Hai Dang., Ltd (the business for which Tran Quy was the director) had a license for conducting eco-tourism and wildlife conservation activities on Hon Khoai Island in Ca Mau province. However, Hai Dang., Ltd did not actually carry out any tourism activity on the island. They used the remote location to receive pangolins and pangolin scales in huge shipments from overseas, then transported them to mainland Vietnam where they were then driven north towards the Chinese border.
ENV followed this case closely and provided information about Tran Quy’s business when able. The harsh prison sentences sparked attention from the media, seen in the VN Express article here.