Improving Viet Nam’s CITES Enforcement
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 23rd November 2009—More than two dozen of Viet Nam’s Environmental Police will gather this week in Ha Noi for four days of training on wildlife trade enforcement.
The training, led by German CITES experts, will focus on the regulations, implementation and enforcement of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), the primary agreement regulating international trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
The workshop is one of two being conducted by the Greater Mekong office of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, in co-operation with the German CITES Management Authority.
This week’s training will be held in Ha Noi for environmental officers from northern Viet Nam, while the second will take place 30th November–3rd December in Ho Chi Minh City for officers from the southern provinces.
Both workshops are sponsored by the German Ministry for Environment and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BFN) and will include a fieldtrip to nearby wildlife centres and farms to give trainees hands-on experience in animal identification and CITES compliance.
In Viet Nam, as in other parts of Southeast Asia, the illicit wildlife trade has pushed species such as the Tiger, Asian Elephant, Javan Rhinoceros and Hawksbill Turtle to the brink of extinction, and caused a sharp decline in wild populations of many others.
Although relatively new, the Department of Environmental Police has shown an ever-increasing commitment to ending wildlife trafficking since its inception in 2007. It has expanded to a force of nearly 1000 officers stationed around the country, and has been increasingly more active in investigating and seizing illegal wildlife products.
The growing frequency of wildlife seizures by authorities indicates an improved understanding of illegal trafficking and CITES regulations, thanks in part to two previous trainings conducted by TRAFFIC in 2008.
According to Nguyen Dao Ngoc Van, Senior Project Officer with TRAFFIC Greater Mekong Programme, such results are encouraging for Viet Nam’s CITES enforcement efforts.
“When the Environmental Police were first created, officers didn’t know which plants and animals were protected. Now we see the evidence of the effectiveness of these trainings in providing the technical skills and knowledge necessary to monitor and confiscate wildlife traded illegally,” said Van.
The trainings taking place over the next two weeks will include an element of capacity building for the Environmental Police. A selection of the 50 workshop participants will be taught how to lead their own trainings for other officers in their unit, and thereby ensure the long-term sustainability of CITES enforcement in Viet Nam.
“It is the quickest way for Viet Nam’s Environmental Police to familiarize its officers with basic CITES knowledge” said Mr. Franz Böhmer, the lead trainer for these workshops, who has more than two decades experience conducting CITES trainings.