Target: Nguyen Minh Quang, Vietnam’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources
Goal: Stop illegal hunting and trade of Vietnam’s threatened wildlife.
Persistent demand for wildlife goods is jeopardizing Vietnam’s already depleted populations of animals, though it was one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Vietnam’s rhinoceroses have already gone extinct. Scientists estimate only a few individual tigers remain. Even lesser-known species of turtles, snakes, and birds are being overhunted so they can be used in traditional medicines, as food, as trophies, and as pets.
Many hunters recognize that killing animals at such high rates is unsustainable, yet the prospect of profit in this $19 billion dollar industry is a strong draw to keep up the trade. Moreover, the illegality of hunting wildlife only adds to its appeal, giving hunters the impression that they can live beyond the law.
One major challenge is changing the major role Vietnam plays in the illegal wildlife trade across nations. Vietnam acts as a key thoroughfare for wildlife into China. Wildlife goods come through its borders from other Southeast Asian nations and even Africa. Furthermore, Vietnam is a major consumer of wildlife itself, with items like rhino horn prized as an ingredient in traditional medicine. Exotic meat is also seen as a status symbol among the nation’s rising middle class.
Promisingly, international attention to illegal wildlife trade is at a historically high level. Still, as might be expected, action on the ground level has been slow to appear following the speeches of world leaders. Meanwhile, wildlife criminals often manage to escape punishment, rarely doing time in jail and usually getting off with a small fine, according to a recent article in New York Times.
Please sign the petition below to help raise awareness of the grave consequences of this destructive trade. Push for alternative sources of income for local Vietnamese and for greater protection of Vietnam’s wealth of biodiversity.
Dear Minister Nguyen,
I am writing in regard to the prodigious illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam. Fueling a $19 billion dollar industry, demand for wildlife goods is damaging your nation’s incredible biodiversity, which has already experienced major losses, including the extinction of rhino populations. While many hunters recognize they are illegally depleting animal populations, they are understandably attracted to the potential profit in continuing this work and satisfying the persistent international demand for wildlife goods.
I encourage you to lead the way in demonstrating the value in protecting wildlife rather than destroying it. By expanding educational programs and alternative sources of income such as ecotourism, you can help demonstrate the value of protecting your nation’s wildlife both for the benefit of current citizens and future generations to come.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Valerius Tygart via Wikimedia Commons