Posted on 24 July 2020
WWF welcomes the new Directive No. 29, issued by the Prime Minister of Viet Nam yesterday, to address crucial issues on illegal wildlife trade.
Hanoi, 24th July 2020
– WWF welcomes the new Directive No. 29, issued by the Prime Minister of Viet Nam yesterday, to address crucial issues on illegal wildlife trade as part of the country’s efforts to prevent future pandemics, halt further loss of Viet Nam’s declining wildlife populations and improve the country’s reputation in relation to wildlife trade.
Closing down illegal wild animal markets and locales that sell wild animals; planning for ivory and rhino horn stockpile destruction; stricter control and management of farmed wild animals including tiger farming; a temporary ban on the import of wild animal specimens; and reviewing and revising the legal system in relation to enforcement mechanisms for illegal consumption of wild animal specimens are some of the key highlights of the Directive. These changes, if implemented effectively, could signal a major U-turn in wildlife conservation in Viet Nam.
"As countries around the world grapple with COVID-19 and the risk of other zoonotic infectious diseases, we wholly embrace the timely and decisive action by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to deliver this Directive, improving regulations on the trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife and showing leadership in managing stockpiles of seized CITES listed species including rhino horn and elephant ivory. WWF stands ready to support the government to implement the Directive as required, technically and financially”, said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, Country Director, WWF-Viet Nam.
The Directive is a timely response from the Prime Minister of Viet Nam recognising the potential threat of the next pandemic if no urgent actions
are taken to address the environmental factors driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases
in which the hunting, trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife is one of the biggest drivers. This signifies a step toward reducing threats to public health and the national economy, and helps secure a future for countless species threatened by illegal trade, consumption and commoditization in Viet Nam and across the region.
“We must urgently recognize the links between the destruction of nature and human health, or we will soon see the next pandemic,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International. “WWF commends the series of measures taken by governments to eliminate high-risk wildlife trade and consumption. There is an urgent need for global concerted action, and the elimination of high-risk wildlife trade is an important first step towards reducing the risk of future zoonotic epidemics, protecting species and safeguarding people’s lives and well-being. There is no debate, and the science is clear; we must work with nature, not against it. Unsustainable exploitation of nature has become an enormous risk to us all. ”
Key highlights of the Directive include:
Efforts of WWF and conservation organisations
- Stop the import of wild animals (except for aquatic species that are used to produce food and animal feed; processed animal parts to be used as medicinal materials, inputs for production or final products) until further direction from the Prime Minister;
- Revise and/or supplement existing legislation on wildlife to promulgate fines / enforcement mechanism on illegal consumption of wild animals and their products;
- Close down illegal wild animal markets, especially those linked to the trade of wild birds, mammals and reptiles;
- Ban the illegal buying, trading, possessing, transporting, killing, poaching, processing and advertising of wildlife products, especially by government officers and their family members;
- Take up strong measures to manage stockpiles of elephant ivory and rhino horn;
- Improved regulation, monitoring and management of wild animal farms with an emphasis on animal origin and additional assessment and handling of tiger farms;
- Ministry of Health to monitor the pharmaceutical business on the use of legal wildlife as elements in drugs;
- Improving the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime; encouraging open public trial; speed up and improve the quality of handling cases related to wildlife crime;
- Improve enforcement on borders and in markets; raising awareness for communities living in border areas on the ban of illegal hunting, trading, farming wildlife;
On 16 February 2020, WWF and nine other conservation organisations sent a letter to the Prime Minister to urge the Government to address the illegal wildlife trading and consumption in Viet Nam to stop a future pandemic such as COVID-19. Soon after that, the Prime Minister sent a letter, on 6th March, to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to work with relevant government agencies to develop a Directive on controlling illegal wildlife trade and consumption.
WWF and four other NGOs of the WSN (Wildlife Support Network) took the lead in providing inputs to the development of the draft Directive. Specifically, on 29 March the group sent inputs directly to Dr Pham Van Dien - Vice Director of VNForest who led the drafting committee after the consultation workshop for the Directive organized jointly by the Agriculture Newspaper and Forest Protection Department on 27 March.
Together with the WSN active members, WWF specifically emphasized the need to 1) close wild animal markets with high-risk taxa including mammals and birds; 2) improve control of wildlife farming and to stop farming CITES Appendix I species for commercial purposes; 3) stop auctions of seized wildlife; 4) ensure compliance with CITES in relation to ivory and rhino horn stockpile management; 5) make the border army and marine police more accountable for illegal wildlife trade under their jurisdiction; and 6) comprehensively investigate large ivory seizures. The consortium also noted in appreciation the willingness and openness of the government to take many of the recommendations from conservation NGOs.