14:12 | 04/04/2015 Science - Technology
(VEN) - Vietnam will pass several important milestones this year, including the 20th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations with the US, and its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN). For these reasons, Vietnam has been selected as the first country in 2015 to launch the Operation Game Change (OGC) program with the intention of enhancing the protection of wildlife, and stamping out the illegal trade and consumption of endangered animals, said the US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius at the launching ceremony of the OGC program on March 3 in Hanoi.
Participating in this event were the ambassadors to Vietnam from Mozambique and South Africa, representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from both home and abroad. The goal of the program is to raise the awareness of millions of people in Vietnam regarding the use of trafficked wildlife products, especially rhino horns. In addition, the program also aims to cooperate with governments, civil society, and NGOs in countries where wildlife products are trafficked to boost the protection of wildlife on both sides of the problem.
According to a one-year survey by the CITES Management Authority of Vietnam, the International CITES Secretariat, and the Human International Society (HIS) issued in mid-October 2014, the number of Vietnamese people wishing to purchase and use rhino horn has dropped by 38 percent thanks to a rhino horn anti-use campaign. In addition, the number of Vietnamese people believing in the healing properties of rhino horn also fell by 25.4 percent. Hanoi showed the most pronounced change in mindset, with decreases in these categories of 77 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
The OGC is being implemented through the coordinated efforts of governmental agencies and NGOs including the US diplomatic mission to Vietnam, the Department of Biopersity Conservation under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Management Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), and community groups. Through this partnership, the OGC will promote wildlife protection measures among local people with a view to terminating wildlife related crimes, while maintaining protection laws for wild animals on the brink of extinction.
At the OGC launching ceremony, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen said, “Vietnam has enacted the Biopersity Conservation Law in recent years. As a governing body of environmental protection, we have submitted to the government a national strategy draft for the conservation of biopersity until 2020, with a vision towards 2030. Last year, we went to South Africa to work with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs on wildlife markets and related solutions to fight against wildlife trafficking, especially rhino horns.”
Wildlife trafficking and consumption is an urgent global challenge that requires people to work together. The OGC will hopefully be an effective tool to prevent such illegal activities in the future.
By Minh Ky