Published 29 June 2011

Targeting bottleneck proves effective in curbing illicit trade

Hue City, Viet Nam, 29th June 2011—A wrap-up workshop takes place today in Hue city at the end of a two-year project aimed at reducing illegal wildlife trade in the biodiversity-rich Central Annamites region of Viet Nam.

Mr Nguyen Viet Hoach, Director of Thua Thien Hue provincial FPD. © TRAFFIC

The Annamite Mountains in Lao PDR and Viet Nam are home to many species of global conservation concern, including Tiger Panthera tigris, Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, and some species found nowhere else in the world, such as the elusive Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis.  

The region is recognised as a hot spot for illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam. Species are often taken from neighbouring Lao PDR and other countries in the region and funnelled through Hue to be sold as exotic meats, medicines, pets or trophies to wealthy Vietnamese in major urban centres, or further transported to China.

“The goal was to disrupt the illegal wildlife trade chain along the key supply and distribution routes in the province,” said Sulma Warne, Co-ordinator for the TRAFFIC Greater Mekong Programme. 

“The pilot approach was particularly effective as trade in this province is restricted to one major wildlife trade route known as the Hai Van pass, creating what is referred to as a trade 'bottleneck' where enforcement efforts were targeted,” added Warne.

During project implementation, increased efforts by law enforcement led to encouraging results: a total of 88 cases of illegal wildlife trade confiscations took place; 731 wild animals were released back into the wild; more than 900 kg of wildlife meat were seized and destroyed; and total fines amounted to 178,000,000 VND (9,000 USD). 

The numbers send a powerful message to wildlife traffickers, traders and consumers that the government is serious about cracking down on wildlife related crimes. 

“Some impressive results have been achieved by targeting this particular bottleneck, and we hope to be able to replicate this model at other strategic sites across the country,” said Van Ngoc Thinh of WWF Viet Nam and the project’s manager.

Such positive outcomes have largely been the result of a multi-agency collaborative approach, involving key agencies such as the provincial Environmental Police (EP) and Forest Protection Department (FPD).
“Each agency brings its own areas of expertise and experience to combating illegal wildlife trade and combined this has helped to maximise law enforcement impacts. Raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity and wildlife conservation is also a critical element to better protect wildlife. The mass media and social communities should be more active in the fight against illegal wildlife trade,” said Mr Nguyen Viet Hoach, Director of Thua Thien Hue provincial Forest Protection Department.

The joint WWF-TRAFFIC pilot project, which began in February 2009 and ended in June 2011, was supported by Aage V. Jensen Charity of Denmark through WWF Denmark.