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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.”
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.
Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) has released new findings on Vietnamese law enforcement performance in relation to their response and action to protect wildlife. The data collected through ENV’s Wildlife Crime Unit reveals law enforcement agencies in Vietnam responded to 84% of publicly reported wildlife crimes in 2019.
ENV has been compiling wildlife crime data for more than 15 years and operates an Incident Tracking Database, containing more than 16,000 cases logged since ENV’s Crime Unit was established. However, this is the first report that compares the responsiveness of agencies tasked with wildlife protection in all 63 provinces based on four key criteria, and provides national and provincial baselines from which to assess performance in publicly reported wildlife crime. The four key criteria, public reports, responsiveness, success rate, and live animal success rate, are described in detail in the report.
“ENV congratulates and thanks all of the Forest Protection Departments, police, and relevant law enforcement agencies who contributed to the successful protection of wildlife in their provinces,” states Bui Thi Ha, Head of ENV’s Policy and Legislation Department.
“Combatting the wildlife trade is not easy, but it is the responsibility of all provinces in Vietnam, now more than ever, and the involvement of the public is crucial to ending this industry which threatens public health worldwide. Exemplified by the Covid-19 pandemic, the wildlife trade has no place in modern day society and must be eradicated as soon as possible,” Bui Ha adds.
ENV is challenging authorities from all provinces, even top performing provinces, to improve their responsiveness rate in 2020 to reach a new national average of 90%. Moreover, considerable improvements should be in place to increase national average success rate to at least 50%.
Aiming at effectively improving wildlife protection in Vietnam, hard copies of the evaluation report have been distributed to provincial People’s Committees to inform leaders how well their provinces are performing on a national scale. Copies have also been sent to Forest Protection Departments and relevant law enforcement agencies in all 63 provinces.
In 2009, Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) initiated a 12 month investigation in Vietnam aimed at examining links between tiger farming and illegal trade. In addition, we sought to develop a better understanding of the illegal trade networks and the key individuals who are responsible for the bulk of the illegal tiger trade in Vietnam.
During the investigation, ENV worked closely with key partners in the National Environmental Police, provincial police agencies and Forest Protection Departments, as well as independent investigators.
This interim briefing is intended to highlight some of the key findings of the investigation to date. Later in 2010, a comprehensive, confidential report will be produced for law enforcement agencies and key government representatives detailing the findings thus far.
There are two species of pangolin native to Vietnam, the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) and the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica). The Chinese pangolin inhabits the northern regions of the country, whereas the Sunda pangolin is found in the south. Both of these species are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, with wild populations suspected of undergoing sharp declines due to hunting and trade.
A brief analysis of the pangolin trade was conducted by ENV in 2011 reviewing cases documented on ENV’s Wildlife Crime Database over the past six years (since January 2005). The purpose of the analysis was to assess the volume of pangolin trade as documented by ENV over this period, and provide reliable information on the average weight of a pangolin in trade so that quantities of animals could be more accurately determined from gross-weight seizures.
The following summary of tiger seizures for the period January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2013 was compiled by Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), in order to ensure that accurate data for Vietnam is made available for use in addressing tiger trade enforcement issues regionally.