Winners of TRAFFIC’s sustainable traditional medicine competition announced
Hanoi, Viet Nam, 21st June 2019—The winners of an essay writing competition were announced today at an awards ceremony held at Hanoi Medical University. The competition, organised by TRAFFIC in partnership with WWF Germany, sought to encourage ideas on sustainable, legal alternatives to illegal wildlife products in traditional medicine in Viet Nam.
Three entrants—Vo Thi Tuyet, Ngo Mai Thi Thanh Huyen, and Nguyen Van Tuan—beat 62 other university and college students to win first-place prizes for their essays. The winning entries featured ideas on plant-based alternatives to rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products and reflected on the importance of protecting biodiversity—both for the future of the traditional medicine sector and the future of the planet. Finalists also noted the detrimental effect that poaching has on local communities and the necessity of abiding by the law.
The majority of entrants were traditional medicine students, perhaps indicating a shift away from any acceptability of these products in a sector that still has links to the use of products from endangered species, such as rhino horn, pangolin scales, and tiger bones, despite their use being banned. So far this year, more than 40 tonnes of pangolin scales have been seized either in Viet Nam or en route to the country.
“We are glad to see students showing a growing interest in the conservation of the environment, biodiversity, and wildlife species through this contest. It is of the utmost importance that we all raise our voices to eliminate the use of endangered wild species in traditional medicine,” said Associate Professor Dao Anh Son from Hanoi University’s Training Institute for Preventive and Public Health.
Winners were chosen based on the clarity of their arguments and the strength of their writing. As part of the competition requirements, all entries have been circulated widely on Facebook, sharing their ideas on sustainability with hundreds of others. The winning entries will additionally be translated into English and promoted by TRAFFIC.
In 2018, also with funding from WWF Germany, TRAFFIC held a series workshops with traditional medicine students, offering guidance on sustainable alternatives to illegal wildlife products. Following the workshops, 85% of students stated that they would not recommend illegal wildlife products, compared with an initial 68%.
“We aim to empower future traditional medicine practitioners to seek out legal, sustainably sourced products. This work contributes to efforts to tackle the global threat posed by the illegal wildlife trade and provides ways for the traditional medicine community proactively to protect endangered species,” said Sarah Ferguson, TRAFFIC’s Viet Nam Director.
TRAFFIC is a leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development whose mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. More information at www.traffic.org