Vietnam has launched long-term and consistent efforts to strengthen law enforcement to protect wildlife and biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of people affected by declining biodiversity.
According to the Biodiversity Conservation Agency, Vietnam has been tougher on violators of wildlife and biodiversity conservation rules.
Wildlife-related crimes are considered serious, with convicted criminals now facing higher penalties and longer prison sentences in accordance with amendments to the 2015 Penal Code adopted by the National Assembly in 2017. Violators may face up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to 15 billion VND (650,000 USD), with penalties rising in line with the quantity of wildlife trafficked.
In July last year, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued Directive No 29 on urgent measures to restrict wildlife trade and consumption, banning the importation of live wild animals and wildlife products, strictly eliminating wildlife markets, and prohibiting the hunting, transporting, slaughtering, selling, buying, storing, consuming, or advertising of wildlife, including online sales.
Vietnam is among the signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the 1989 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The country has also stepped up bilateral and multilateral cooperation on wildlife conservation, for example signing an agreement with South Africa in 2012 to put an end to the illegal trade of rhinoceros horn.
Between 2015 and 2020, about 73 percent of wildlife trafficking cases were brought to trial. The 2015 Penal Code resulted in an increase in average prison sentences for wildlife crime in subsequent years, to 5.29 years in 2018 and 4.49 years in the first half of 2020 compared to just 1.25 years in 2017.
In 2019, a man from the northern province of Quang Ninh was sentenced to 13 years in prison for illegally possessing and trading 145 Java pangolins, 7 kg of pangolin scales, and 71.4 kg of elephant skin. Three other people from Hanoi received up to 12 years for similar offences.
Deputy Director of the Biodiversity Conservation Agency Nguyen Xuan Dung said Vietnam has developed and enforced a number of programmes and action plans on the urgent conservation of endangered species, such as tigers, elephants, primates, and turtles.
Projects monitoring wildlife populations have been carried out in Quang Binh province’s Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, Hai Phong city’s Cat Ba National Park, Ninh Binh province’s Van Long Nature Reserve, Tuyen Quang province’s Na Hang and Cham Chu Nature Reserves, Nam Dinh province’s Xuan Thuy National Park, and others.
Other projects building biodiversity corridors in the central provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue have contributed to maintaining and protecting the habitats of endangered species, including the buffed-cheeked gibbon, Edwards’s pheasant, red-shanked douc, Annamite striped rabbit, and Annamite muntjac.
Vietnam is now home to 173 wildlife conservation zones, comprising 33 national parks, 66 nature reserves, and 18 species and habitat reserves. They cover a total area of more than 2.5 million ha, which is expected to rise to over 3 million ha by 2030./. VNA
A survey of nearly 600 Chinese tourists who visited Vietnam showed that 17 per cent of them visited ivory shops during their visit and an estimated 2 per cent bought ivory products with an average spend of VND12 million (US$522).