Media Highlights

The vital safeguarding of Vietnam’s tigers

How many tigers does Vietnam have? It’s a matter that is troubling the experts and there is no definitive answer says Dr Scott Roberton from the Wildlife Conservation Society on November 24.

Dr. Roberton confirmed that according to a recent survey by Education for Nature – Vietnam and the Environmental Police department, Vietnam has 97 tigers in captivity, but numbers of tigers in the wild, are thought to be anywhere between 20 and 100.

He said that while it is relatively easy to breed tigers in captivity, if not regulated, it can harm wild tiger populations.

“Is breeding tigers always good for wild tiger conservation? The answer is ‘no’. Increasing the number of tigers in captivity is only good if it is supporting the conservation of wild tigers.”

He stressed:  “It is more difficult to release captive tigers to the wild than it is to simply protect existing wild tiger populations and let them naturally increase.”

Trinh Le Nguyen, director of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), said that according to the WWF, ten years ago Vietnam had 100 wild tigers.

According to Nguyen, the current number of tigers in Vietnam may be less than 100 because “Tigers require a large area of forest to live andcan travel up to 100km a day, but forests in Vietnam are being narrowed”.

Nguyen warned that wildlife smuggling cases discovered in Vietnam account for only 20 percent of total cases. The local press also report only 10 percent of cases calculated by the Vietnam Forest Protection Agency.

An investigation in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong showed illegal hunting of wild animals remains popular. At least 175 professional hunters are working in the two districts of Cat Tien and Da The in the forests of Lam Dong.

According to the study, hunters mainly work in protected areas like the Bi Doup National Park, Nui Ba Mountain and the Cat Tien National Park. Hunters of Don Duong, Dam Rong and Lam Ha work in Dak Lak and Dak Nong provinces. They also go to Ninh Thuan and Binh Phuoc to hunt wild animals.

Hunters say they use many tools in hunting, including self-made shot guns, an AR115, an M16 or even a bow.

A hunter in Don Duong district said his group normally has between four and six hunters. After up to five days laying traps, they check the traps and often collect up to 40 kilos of wild animals in a pine forest in Ninh Thuan province.

Another hunter in Dam Rong district said his group works at night to avoid forest rangers.


Source: Trung Thanh, VietnamNet

23,000 Signatures Sent to Region’s Leaders

On 19th October 2009, at the ASEAN People’s Forum, the Save the Mekong coalition sends to the Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Lao, Thailand and Vietnam a 23,110 signature petition urging the Mekong region’s leaders to abandon plans for hydropower development on the Mekong River’s mainstream and to work together to protect the river and pursue less damaging electricity options.

The petition is signed by 15,282 people from within the Mekong region, including 352 people from China, 30 from Burma, 616 from Laos, 7,797 from Thailand, 2,682 from Cambodia and 3,805 from Vietnam. Many of these signatories live alongside the Mekong River. The remaining 7,828 signatures came from people from fifty countries around the world.

The governments of Cambodia, Lao and Thailand are currently considering plans by Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Russian and Chinese companies to build eleven dams on the Mekong River’s mainstream. These plans are inconsistent with the ASEAN charter, including commitments to protect the environment, to use natural resources sustainably, and to preserve cultural heritage. They are also inconsistent with ASEAN’s commitment to sustainable development and attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially MDG1 on eradicating extreme hunger and poverty and MDG7 to ensure environmental sustainability.

At the ASEAN People’s Forum, civil society groups will call for a new ASEAN Strategic Pillar on Environment that commits the member states to place international best practices on environmental sustainability at the center of decision-making. Proposals to build dams on the Mekong River’s mainstream epitomize an out-dated and unsustainable mode of development that violates affected people’s rights and fails to ensure equitable and sustainable development. Yet, with revised energy policies in place, ASEAN could leapfrog the 1950s-era of big dams and start growing sustainable, modern economies without losing the benefits that healthy rivers bring.

The Mekong River is the world’s most productive inland freshwater fishery. Wild fish and other aquatic resources harvested from the Mekong are worth up to US$9.4 billion per year taking into account secondary industries. The fisheries contribute significantly to the region’s economy and secure the incomes and livelihoods of millions of local fishers throughout the region, which include many of the region’s poorest people.

Building mainstream dams would block the migratory fisheries that constitute around seventy percent of the total commercial catch, consequently jeopardizing regional food security, nutrition and health and seriously setting back other initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty and meeting development targets. Experience around the world demonstrates that there is no way to mitigate the fisheries impacts of such large dams.

On 18 June 2009, representatives from the Save the Mekong coalition met with H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Prime Minister of Thailand, who agreed that ASEAN has a role to play as a forum to discuss issues related to plans for dam development and impacts.

Despite the limited space for public debate, the Save the Mekong petition aims to make heard the people’s voices for protecting the Mekong as a giant food chain and cultural lifeline for millions of people.

Download the letter to H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung, The Prime Minister of Vietnam [English] and [Vietnamese]

Source: Save the Mekong

Economic growth depletes resources

Experts have decried the excessive focus on economic development that has severely depleted the nation’s natural resource base, and called for urgent measures to redress the problem.

Ways to balance the country’s socio-economic development with preservation and efficient use of natural resources topped the agenda of a two-day conference that ended Wednesday in HCM City.

The conference on Environmental Policy in the Context of Development in Viet Nam was organised by PanNature (People and Nature Reconciliation), a Vietnamese non-profit organisation established by Vietnamese environmental professionals with support from the Ford Foundation.

Nguyen Ngoc Tran, former deputy head of the National Assembly’s External Relations Committee, said many localities had paid more attention to economic development than environmental issues. As a result, environmental pollution had seriously increased, becoming a big challenge during the development process.

Degraded ecosystems

Pham Quang Tu, director of the Institute for Development Consultancy, agreed with Tran, saying that the lack of a master plan and supervisory mechanism for natural resources exploitation had contributed to the degrading of the country’s ecosystems.

“Besides, the law on environmental protection contains many loopholes and unreasonable regulations while penalties are not heavy enough to prevent people from violating the rules,” Tu added.

Participants at the meeting agreed that in the context of globalisation, the nation’s legal system on social-economic development and environmental protection must be more comprehensive to ensure sustainable development.

Calling for investment was a top priority for developing the country, but it should not mean that the country was willing to sacrifice the environment, they said.

Tran said: “To develop sustainably, we must pay special attention to protecting the environment; and use and maintain natural resources reasonably, otherwise it would have serious consequences for our next generations.”

He suggested that relevant agencies from the central to grassroot levels co-ordinate with each other in planning investment projects and monitoring compliance of environmental protection regulations by enterprises.

Authorities should encourage the development of clean production projects to reduce adverse impacts on the environment, Tran said. He also emphasised the role of the mass media in raising awareness of the people, the community and senior administrators about the need for environmental protection.

Regarding plans by some localities to put “low-value” forests to other uses, Nguyen Chi Thanh, former director of the Southern Forest Planning and Investigation Sub-institute, recommended that they carefully conduct a cost-benefit analysis before making such decisions.

Source: Vietnam News

Ha Noi Youth Pedal for Environmental Protection

Every Sunday at 7.30am, volunteers for PYNet, which stands for Network Promoting Youth to Act for Community and Develop-ment, gather at the Ly Thai To monument to start their cycling tour around Ha Noi. Since the project got rolling in September, with support from People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) and Ban Tay Viet Limited Co, enthusiastic volunteers from all over the country have been participating.

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People and Nature Reconciliation | Office: 24 H2, Khu do thi moi Yen Hoa
Yen Hoa quarter, Cau Giay district, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: ++8424 3556-4001 | Fax: ++8424 3556-8941 | Email: contact@nature.org.vn