One meal at a time, tourists kill wildlife in Vietnam

By VnExpress   December 17, 2016 | 01:00 am PT
One meal at a time, tourists kill wildlife in Vietnam
Employees weigh a pangolin before its release to the forest at a wild animal rescue center in Hanoi, Vietnam September 9, 2016. Picture taken on September 9, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Conservation groups have asked hotels and travel companies to promote zero-tolerance toward illegal wildlife trade and consumption.

A new study by conservation group Education for Nature Vietnam has found that two out of 10 local restaurants in the country put wild animals on their menu, creating a market for illegal wildlife poachers and traders.

Statistics show that the world is faced with a catastrophic rise in illegal wildlife trade, which reportedly generate about $20 billion a year.

Vietnam is increasingly viewed as a hub for the illegal trade as meat from animals such as civets, turtles and pangolins is seen as a delicacy by many.

Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the country’s robust tourism industry has contributed to the high demand for wildlife meat and products.

He said some tourists want to try wild meat during their trips and also buy souvenirs made of animal parts, especially elephant ivory. Binh did not specify which group of tourists consumed the most of such products.

As many as nine tour operators, restaurants and hotels signed an agreement on Wednesday against the trafficking and consumption of wild animals in a joint campaign.

“Hotels and tourism companies are uniquely suited to promote zero-tolerance toward illegal wildlife consumption as they interact with millions of international and domestic tourists every year,” said Madelon Willemsen, head of the Vietnam office of TRAFFIC, the international wildlife monitoring network.

“Businesses in the hospitality sector can now join the thousands of other businesses in Vietnam in the fight against illegal wildlife trade by encouraging their guests to be responsible tourists,” she said.

Vietnam has revised the penal code, which will come into effect next year, to impose harsher penalties on those involved in the illegal trade or consumption of wildlife.

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