By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Victory for wildlife protection in Vietnam: A proposed wildlife law which would have opened the floodgates for commercial farming and trade in endangered species has been defeated.
New legislation — which was proposed by Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) — threatened to undermine more than 20 years of progress in wildlife protection in Vietnam and put the country’s most endangered species at risk. It would have allowed commercial trade in endangered species “not sourced directly from the wild”, thereby creating a loophole for “farming” wildlife, such as tigers, rhinos, bears, and gibbons.
Had this decree been enacted, it would have compromised law enforcement efforts by providing criminal networks with the means to launder illegal wildlife products with legal channels. And it would have increased demand for wildlife products by sending a message to the public that commercial exploitation of endangered species is acceptable. Despite what wildife-farming advocates claim, the expansion of farming operations to meet rising demand does not relieve pressure on wild populations.
Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) has been deeply involved in efforts to address weaknesses in early drafts of the law and has countered pro-farming arguments by pointing out that wild-caught Siamese crocodiles continue to be hunted and sold to farms in Vietnam, demonstrating how crocodile farming and the development of a legal trade in a critically endangered species has failed to relieve pressure on wild populations.
ENV also pushed to change the language in another proposed endangered species law that was drafted in 2012 by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE), because early versions of the draft contained similar allowances for commercial trade in endangered species.
However, the new law (MONRE Decree 160) which was signed into law November 15, 2013 prohibits any form of commercial trade in listed endangered species, regardless of origin, “a great victory for wildlife protection,” according to ENV director Vu Thi Quyen. More....