Vietnam steps up fight against wildlife trafficking

Vietnam has enhanced efforts against illegal wildlife trade and its impact on biodiversity, through a wide range of measures from raising public awareness to strengthening law enforcement including increased penalties for offenders, local media reported on Tuesday. The Vietnamese government has made law enforcement an urgent priority by improving the legal and regulatory framework, boosting law enforcement capacity, and facilitating coordination between enforcement agencies, said Do Quang Tung, director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s endangered wildlife conservation project. The Southeast Asian country has refined its criminal laws on the exploitation and trading of wildlife with clearer and stricter policies, reports Xinhua news agency. Criminals convicted of breaking laws of protecting endangered species will face up to 15 years in prison and be fined up to 15 billion Vietnamese dong ($630,000). The amended penal code, applying to transporting, storing, selling wildlife products from rhinos, elephants, tigers, pangolins, bears and other endangered animals, has sent a strong message to the public that wildlife trafficking is now severely punished, said Tung, which in turn has helped reduce consumer demand for wildlife products such as food, traditional medicine and jewellery. The number of violations related to wildlife across the nation decreased by 147 cases per year during 2018-2022 compared to those in the period 2013-2017, statistics from the Forest Protection Department showed. However, the illegal trade of wild animals across the border remains a complex issue, requiring increased cooperation at national, regional and global levels, said the agriculture official.