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advocacy

Five poachers sentenced 13.5 years in prison in hunting rare wildlife in Pu Mat National Park

On Jun 25, 2019, People’s Court of Con Cuong district in Nghe An Province announced verdict on the case of illegal hunting of 02 endangered Indochinese Gray langurs in the protected forest area of Pu Mat National Park. The convicts include Lo Van Hang, who directly shot the langur, sentenced to 4 years imprisonment, Vieng Van Thuy, the arranger of the hunting, sentenced to 3 years; the three other accomplices are sentenced to a total of 6 years 6 month. This case was handled by Pu Mat national park’s rangers and SVW Anti-poaching team in early January 2019.

On Jun 9, 2019, the 5 of them agreed to give 300,000 VND each firsthand for food. Each brought man-made hunting rifles and wire traps themselves to Pu Mat National park located at Chau Khe commune of Con Cuong District. They all had an agreement about equally sharing the wildlife meat after hunting. After entering the core protected area, which was strictly prohibited to enter, of the Nation Park, they carried out their assigned job, setting up temporary camps and system of wildlife traps. At 13:00 on January 11, 2019, the hunting group included Lo Van Hang and Vieng Van Sinh saw two individual gray langurs. Hang shot and killed these animals on spot, then these two brought them back to the camp. At 14h30 same day, Pu Mat National Park’s rangers and Anti-poaching team discovered their camp and found two individuals dead gray langurs, 5 rifles and 5 knives, many wire traps for animal hunting, grilled dried legs and bones of a wild boar and an individual of boar alive.

Two individuals of gray langurs with their scientific name Trachypithecus crepusculus (according to the indictment and Decree No.32/2006/ND-CP) are both included in the list of endangered, precious and rare species to prioritize for protection, group IB of Decree 160/2013/NĐ-CP; and the list of endangered and threatened species of Decree No.32/2006/NĐ-CP (that have been superseded by 06/2019/NĐ-CP). Based on the on-site evidences and in consideration of violations of the hunter group which is organized, dangerous to the community, negatively affected to the ecosystems, increase the risk of wild animals’ extinction especially Indochinese gray langur species, the subjects have been prosecuted and convicted for criminal sentence. All five were prosecuted in the People’s Court of Con Cuong district, Nghe An province on the “Violation of regulations on the protection of endangered and rare animals, prioritized protection” in Article 244 of the Penal Code.

It is known that the subjects were invited to participate in the propaganda workshop on wildlife protection law organized by Pu Mat National Park and Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in Tam Quang and Tuong Duong districts at the same period of time, but they did not attend and went to the forest to hunt animals as planned. The lack of understanding and neglect of the law has led to unexpected bad results which not only affects their own futures but also causes a big loss for their families and relatives when all had to face with sad and difficult days of  Tet holiday ahead without husband and man as pillars of family.

Considering that all these people are ethnic minorities living in areas with difficult socio-economic conditions, the court has applied extenuating circumstances and sentenced Lo Van Hang 4 years, Vieng Van Thuy 3 years, Vieng Van Sinh 2 years and 6 months, Lo Van Hau 2 years and Vi Van Hai 2 years imprison.

Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife said: “Vietnam and the world are both facing a terrible disaster – the decline of ecological balance, due to the biodiversity loss. The disappearance of forests and wild animals is taking place very quickly, but it must take a lot of time, effort and resources to recover them. Extinction is forever, and we humans are indifferent to that matter. Our society sympathizes with the weak, in this case, are the hunters. We often forget about all the consequences our society is suffering to implement a huge law enforcement force, as well as to recover the reputation of Vietnamese people for their selfishness in consumption habits of wild animal products, and to treat cancers caused by marinated chemicals into wild meat. Laws need to be strengthened, and we must not comply with violations. Hopefully, this is our lesson and similar violations will never occur in the future.”

“All violations of regulations on forest protection and management, wildlife hunting in Pu Mat National Park area will be strictly prohibited. Anti-poaching and forest protection rangers will strengthen patrols and resolutely handle violations. We want to once again warn all people to stop hunting, using and trading wildlife before it’s too late. Since the end of 2018, Pu Mat National Park has organized 12 seminars on education on forest protection in all buffer zone communes and I hope this is an eye-opening opportunity for us to change.” Mr. Tran Xuan Cuong, Director of Pu Mat National Park said.

The mobile trial court took place at Chau Khe commune, Con Cuong district, which is one of the hot spots for wildlife hunting. This court can be considered as an education means for people living around the buffer zone of Pu Mat National Park. Local people filled the court hall, showing their concern and interest on the issue. This is a valuable lesson for those who disregard the law, or still have the intention to enter the forest to exploit natural resources and wildlife. Hopefully, this case will somehow affect and partially change the community’s behaviors, make them consider other alternative livelihood solutions the authority has offered and contribute to protect Pu Mat National Park./.

Continue discussions about economic development and raising awareness on wildlife protection for more than 250 people in the buffer zone of Pu Mat National Park

A series of workshops on ” Discuss about developing economic solutions and raise people’s awareness to protect wildlife in Pu Mat National Park” was held in the three communes, Chi Khe, Chau Khe, and Yen Khe in November, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in cooperation with Pu Mat National Park continued to hold a two-day workshops on the same topics. These two workshops took place at the People Committee of Luc Da and Mon Son Communes, Con Cuong District on 17 and 18 December.

We welcomed more than 100 delegates and guests from Luc Da commune and 150 people from Mon Son commune, including leaders and staff of the People’s Committee, gatekeepers, and local communities.

Mon Son and Luc Da are poor communes, the living standards are low, transport is difficult and the rate of poor households is high. The people’s livelihoods are mainly based on agriculture, forestry development, services, and livestock. The locals are also facing many difficulties in forest management and protection, mainly due to the complexity of the terrain, extreme weather, not synchronized inter-sectoral coordination, tough local economy, incorrect regulation in handling of violations.

Ms. Luong Thi Hien, Vice Chairwomen of Luc Da Commune People’s Committee said: “We will actively direct the functional departments to propagate, prevent and limit the damage to the lowest level of illegal logging and wildlife trade in the area, following the direction of the Chairman of Con Cuong District People’s Committee in the coming time.

The workshop provided with detailed information on the current status of wildlife trade and wildlife hunting, raising public awareness about why wildlife protection is needed and the provisions of the law on wildlife protection. An important part of the workshop was the discussion on the constraints faced by local people in developing household and local economies, thereby finding the suitable livelihoods solution and minimizing forest resource exploitation.

We will continuously organize these workshops at some communes of Tuong Duong and Anh Son Districts in the upcoming time.

“Strengthening inter-sectoral cooperation in promoting enforcement of wildlife protection in Pu Mat National Park” Workshop

From 18 to 20 Octorber 2018 , Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in collaboration with Pu Mat National Park and District’s People Committee successfully organized three workshops titled “Strengthening inter-sectoral cooperation in promoting enforcement of wildlife protection in Pu Mat National Park” in 3 districts of Tuong Duong, Anh Son and Con Cuong in Nghe An province.

A one-day workshop was held in three districts majorly surrounded by Pu Mat forest, in which Con Cuong district has the largest forest area. The workshop received enthusiastic participation from 300 delegates, especially deputy secretaries and vice presidents of the districts: Mr. Kha Van Ot – Vice Chairman of Tuong Duong District; Mr. Vi Duc Hoai – Deputy secretary of Con Cuong district; Mr. Lo Van Thao – Vice Chairman of Con Cuong district; Mr. Nguyen Van Son – Deputy Secretary of Anh Son District; Mr. Dang Dinh Luan – Chief of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Anh Son District; Mr. Trần Xuân Cường – Director of Pu Mat National Park, Mr. Nguyen Van Thai – Executive Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, and leaders of the local authority of communes in the buffer zone.

The morning session’s presentations have delivered to the delegates and guests some background information on the current state of wildlife, the threats they are facing, law enforcement efforts and reasons why we have to protect wildlife. Key highlights of the presentations include:

Pu Mat National Park’s biodiversity is crucial to many endangered wildlife species who should be prioritized for conservation. (Mr. Nguyen Sy Quoc, Science Officer Pu Mat National Park)

However, the situation of snaring, hunting, drying of bamboo shoots, bee-burning, camping, and illegal wildlife trade are currently threatening the habitat of many endangered animals in Pu Mat forest. (Mr. Le Van Dung, Field Research Manager and Daniel Willcox, Science Advisor, SVW).

Social studies have shown that people living in Pu Mat National Park are supposedly dependent on forest resources. According to their opinions, other solutions for their alternative livelihoods should be considered and developed, as well as different campaigns to raise awareness about wildlife and wildlife protection law. (Le Thi Hai Yen, SVW Community-based Coordinator).

Not only does wildlife hunting affect our ecology, health, and economics, but also the culture of the community. The protection of Pu Mat Forest should start from the workshop’s delegates, along with children of Pumat themselves, whose actions must come from one’s conscience and morality. (Mr. Nguyen Van Thai – Executive Director of SVW).

The morning session left many participants speechless with touching stories about the rescued animals’ long journey to return their home. (Ho Thi Kim Lan, SVW Education Outreach Manager).

In the afternoon, the participants discussed solutions to effectively handled illegal wildlife hunting and trafficking activities, promote sustainable economic development and educate people about wildlife protection.

The delegates came to conclusion about key responsibilities in the coming time:

  • Inter-sectoral cooperation should include the development of an inter-sectoral system, the establishment of a joint patrol group, an inspection plan for restaurants and individuals engaged in illegal wildlife trafficking; as well as strict enforcement of these activities.
  • Carry out education outreach programs for local communities about wildlife and wildlife protection; boycott restaurants selling wildlife, encourage people to expose and report any illegal activities.
  • Continue to develop economic development programs, work with local communities to select sustainable model solutions suitable for the local situation, and limit the exploitation of forest resources in Pu Mat National Park.

“Together we stand up for Pu Mat forest” – as in the workshop’s ultimate goal to cultivate conservation efforts and actions in each person.

At the end of the workshop, leaders from the District People’s Committee agreed to sign the workshop’s minutes and propose measures to be implemented in the future.

The case against pangolin farming

Pangolin in wire cage

Pangolin farming is not a viable conservation solution. Director, Thai Van Nguyen explains why.

There has been increasing pressure from Chinese pharmaceutical companies to allow pangolin farming in habitat states in Asia and Africa.

SVW was invited to lead discussion on breeding pangolins for commercial purposes with the Vietnamese government and other pangolin range states at the Range State Meeting, June 2015 in Da Nang. We also advised key government officials individually. In 2016, as a vice chair of IUCN Pangolin specialist group we led on a submission (signed by 52 other organisations) to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre and Uganda Wildlife Authority opposing a proposal from Chinese pharmaceutical company, Asia-Africa Pangolin Breeding Research Centre Limited to commercially breed pangolins in Uganda. The proposal was denied.

We do not support pangolin farming. There are many lessons to be learnt from the farming of other wildlife species which is very different to highly controlled non-commercial breeding that supports the conservation of wild populations. Farming pangolins would create more problems for pangolin conservation. It would:

– increase hunting pangolins as source animals for farms

– increase demand for pangolins by creating a legal market

– wild pangolin products become ‘premium’ and in demand

– add further challenges in law enforcement because identification between the wild pangolins and farmed pangolins would be impossible to regulate.

It would not be financially viable for the following reasons:
– due to lack understanding of wild ecology pangolins have a high mortality rate in captivity

– low fecundity: 1 baby per litter and gestation is over 6 months

Here’s to our supporters!

As a locally led frontline Non-profit organisation in Vietnam, we rely on our supporters, donors and volunteers who make our work possible. Without our supporters, animals would not be fed, let alone released. We wouldn’t have money to hire the truck to transport pangolins to release sites, we wouldn’t have enough medical supplies to look after animals when they come to injured and sick from the illegal wildlife trade. We wouldn’t have staff to work with communities, train rangers and lobby for law changes nationally.

As a locally led frontline Non-profit organisation in Vietnam, we rely on our supporters, donors and volunteers who make our work possible. Without our supporters, animals would not be fed, let alone released. We wouldn’t have money to hire the truck to transport pangolins to release sites, we wouldn’t have enough medical supplies to look after animals when they come to injured and sick from the illegal wildlife trade. We wouldn’t have staff to work with communities, train rangers and lobby for law changes nationally.

Today, we’d like to celebrate our supporters who raise funds for us and in the process give us hope not just for animals and conservation but for people as well. People like Alegria Olmeda who started a group called People for Pangolins and began the international ‘Pump it for Pangolins’ events that occur on World Pangolin day. Or Hattie Ashton for two years running has run bake sales to raise money for us. Or Mike Matthews who designs and sells T-shirts and donates the profits to worthy frontline organisations around the world. Buy his pangolin T-shirt- profits come to us!. One recent story of group who raised funds for us, completely touched our hearts. We saw a donation come through our Paypal system the note said from Deb Glass and her class. We always love hearing when kids get involved in conservation, so we emailed her and asked her what she did. She wrote back was inspiring for us. We learnt not only about how good people can be, but how teachers all around the world do wonderful things. Here is an edited version of what she wrote:

This is how our “Save the Pangolin” project came about.  I teach a third grade class in a mid-city school in Los Angeles, California.  Earlier in the year, the students learned about endangered animals by picking one animal each to study that was on the critically endangered species list.  They researched the animal, found out why it was critically endangered, then created a PowerPoint presentation about their findings.

They loved their project so much that I decided to extend it by creating a social justice unit for them.  I asked the students to pick a critically endangered animal that they had not already studied.  We looked at pictures of the animals on the list, and the kids picked the pangolin.  None of us had heard of it, they thought it was interesting looking, and also decided that it was cute.

We started working on the unit.  I decided we would raise money by having a “store.”  We would sell erasers, pencils, bookmarks, and notepads to other children at school.  The kids got to work.  We divided into 5 groups: executive, warehouse, personnel, advertising, and financial.  The kids wrote business plans; they wrote a persuasive letter to our principal asking for permission to have the store; they ordered the supplies; wrote a loan paper to me (I was their “investor” who needed to be reimbursed for my outlay of money); wrote up time sheets and a schedule for classmates to work the store; created two PowerPoints about the pangolin to share with each 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade class at school (approximately 230 children); created posters about the pangolin; decided on prices for our products so that we would have a profit; created two different flyers to send home; and a few other things!

We set five days for selling… Because all of the other students had seen a PowerPoint about the pangolin, had learned about it and why it was endangered, they wanted to help by buying our products.  One of my students suggested that we also put out a donation can so that kids might be inclined to give their change from their purchase. We ran out of most of our products by the third day of our sale!  Thank you for asking us to share our classroom story!  The children wrote a letter to Mr. Nguyen and it will go in the mail today, so that will be coming, too.

Our profit was $340 after paying me back for our initial investment!  The students were so incredibly excited they wanted to order more things to sell and keep the project going.  Unfortunately, we had to move on to other units of study!  What they didn’t even completely realize was how much math and writing we were doing throughout the unit.  It was so fun to watch them learn and be so totally engaged in their learning.  Connecting learning to a real-life scenario is significantly more powerful and meaningful for students than a “regular” course of study.

So, that is our story. I feel it is imperative that students be taught that no matter how old they are (or young for that matter), and even if they can’t do everything, everyone can and should do something to help make our world a better place.

Thank you all for dedicating your lives to save the pangolins. I’m glad we were able to give a little help to this critically endangered animal.

Thank you to all our supporters! Deb Glass’s class raised 340 USD. Enough money for us to feed two pangolins for 17 weeks; or rescue 3 pangolins (about 100 USD per trip) and medical supplies for one month; or spend one week in the field tracking pangolins with camera traps (300 USD) and buy 2 sleeping boxes (20 USD each) with the change!

All Pangolin Species Uplisted to Appendix 1

Table with save vietnam's wildlife name tag

Finally, new protections and new hope for all pangolin species acheived at CitesCOP17 held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

After a week of hard work, collaborating with other NGOs, lobbying all CITES parties, Thai, Save Vietnam’s Executive Director, finally witnessed the victory moment for Pangolins: four Asian and four African species were moved to Appendix I. He shared his thoughts afterwards: We would like to thank all parties who made a great contribution for pangolin conservation efforts. Thank you to all organizations who worked very hard to achieved our mission.”

These are some benefits from Appendix I for pangolins:

  • international trade for wild specimens is banned
  • greater protection in all countries
  • clear messages to consumers
  • increases the domestic protection for enforcement priority for the species as many CITES parties use CITES to apply national law
  • reduce the complexity of enforcing our national laws, will reduce the workload associated with the interception of pangolin products as all punishments will be the same
  • more investment from government and NGOs to address issues to save the species from extinction.

It is the first time ever that all NGOs shared the same goal to work hard to support the uplisting of all 8 pangolin species to CITES Appendix I. At the CITES CoP17 – South Africa, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife presented evidence of the increasing pangolin trade and the high demand of pangolin meat and scales in Asia. We also actively lobbied the CITES parties to help them understand the seriousness of the pangolin crisis so that they would support pangolin conservation. Before CoP17, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife also presented on the challenges of pangolin conservation at the first pangolin range start meeting in Vietnam, Sixty-fifth meeting of the Standing Committee – Switzerland, and the IUCN Wildlife Conservation Congress – Hawaii. Uplisting all 8 pangolin species to Appendix I is a victory for us and for other organizations and parties.

The uplisting is not a solution to the wildlife trade but it is vital first step in combatting the trade. We, along with other Vietnamese NGOs will be working to ensure that enforcement is strengthened so that these new regulations will be implemented.

Australian joins Save Vietnam’s Wildlife to fight for pangolins

Heidi

Heidi has been with SVW since February, 2015, her position supported by The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust in the UK. She has been working within the animal welfare and conservation fields for over 15 years, the last 4 based in Asia with animals rescued from the wildlife trade.

I have held the post of Technical Advisor to Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) since early 2015. I have been working with wildlife for over 15 years, the last 4 here in Asia, however it wasn’t until my move to Vietnam that I met the pangolin; a truly enchanting species, but one which is in dire need of our help.

Each pangolin has his or her own personality; some are bold and inquisitive, bravely standing up on their hind legs to investigate what I might be doing; others are shy and retiring, preferring to remain curled in their trademark nautilus shape, blackcurrant eyes peeking out at the world. They are truly unique within the mammalian kingdom – covered in scales which, when curled, form the perfect defence against large predators, but leave them vulnerable to unscrupulous poachers who can simply scoop them up and throw them into a bag.

To understand the magnitude of the international trade in pangolins is overwhelming; this is not a problem confined to Asia, but one that involves the movement of animals across the oceans from the African continent. Both species of pangolin in Vietnam, the Chinese and the Sunda, are critically endangered, their numbers plummeting because of insatiable demand. So to meet senseless, human greed African pangolin species are being trafficked to Asia. Thousands upon thousands of pangolins find themselves trapped in the wildlife trade to satiate the demand for their scales, used in traditional medicine, as well as their flesh, which is considered a luxury dining experience. Within science, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest pangolin scales are effective in curing disease – in fact pangolin scales are made of the same material as our fingernails, keratin. It truly is a double tragedy – not only are pangolin being poached at a truly alarming rate and face extinction, but patients in China and Vietnam are being treated with a false-remedy.

It is heart breaking to see pangolins when they are first confiscated from the wildlife trade. These gentle animals are trafficked in the most shocking conditions: restrained in tight nylon nets for over a week at a time; unable to move and often with serious wounds from snares; covered in their own urine and feces, and without access to food or water and on occasion with stomachs pumped full of limestone powder to make them heavier at sale. It sometimes take months and months of careful care to rehabilitate sick and injured pangolins, and sadly some never recover from their wounds.

Even though the pangolin is recognized as the most wildly trafficked mammal on the planet, eclipsing the number of tigers, elephants, and rhinos in the trade, so many people have not ever heard of them. The situation is so serious within Vietnam, that there are now only pockets of pangolins found dotted throughout the country. They might not have the same star-appeal of Earths charismatic species like the big cats or bears, however pangolins also deserve our commitment; they deserve our protection. If we let the pangolin slip to extinction, then who else are we prepared to say goodbye to forever? The mountain gorilla? The Amur leopard? The only solution is a multifaceted strategy; we need to strengthen law enforcement, raise public awareness, incite behavioral change in pangolin consumers, and encourage the next generation to take pride in and protect the pangolin. You can help the pangolin – visit Save Vietnam’s Wildlife on Facebook to find out more.

Conducting the Owston’s civet Awareness Campaign for the first time

Civet Poster Campaign

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of Owston’s civet conservation to ensure confiscated Owston’s civets and confiscated wildlife as well will be transferred to rescue centres. This is the first time an awareness campaign towards Owston’s civet conservation has been conducted in Vietnam. 

The highlighted activity of the campaign that is Save Vietnam’s Wildlife staff travelled approximately 5000 kilometers to visit and directly delivery Owston’s civet posters and calendars to forest rangers of eight central provinces, two national parks and 19 northern provinces in Vietnam including: Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Bach Ma National Park, Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Hung Yen, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh and Ha Noi.

At each ranger stations, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife staffs have shared the situation of conservation and threats of Owston’s civet in particular and Carnivores and Pangolins in general with rangers. The necessary knowledge and skills on how to identify wild animals, how to handle and care for confiscated carnivores and pangolins were also provided to rangers. Besides, the numbers of Pangolin Information Factsheet have been also delivered to all rangers.

Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Executive Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife shared: “There is no Owston’s civets have been transferred to rescue centres in Vietnam for over 12 years. Most confiscated Owston’s civets have been released straight back into the nearest forests without the consideration of quarantine, monitoring, or a viable location for release. They often get auctioned for the legal market. We hope the awareness campaign helps get more attention and action amongst functional authorities and public towards Owston’s civet and wildlife protection”.

The Owston’s civet (Chrotogale owstoni) becomes one of the rarest civet species in Vietnam for many reasons. Due to its largely terrestrial habitats, the Owston’s civet is vulnerable to snare traps, one of the most common hunting methods throughout their home ranges. In addition, this species appears to be in higher demand than other civets due to their beautiful pelt and the large scent glands which are used in traditional medicine. Owston’s civet is classified as a vulnerable species according to both IUCN Red List and Vietnam Red Book.

To date, there are only 19 Owston’s civets in captivity all over the world and all of which are managed by Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) in cooperation with Cuc Phuong National Park. Save Vietnam’s Wildlife has successfully conducted the Owston’s Civet Conservation Breeding Program following which 66 Owston’s civets from 14 rescued and rehabilitated wild individuals have been successfully bred.