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Training: Wildlife Conservation from Cultural and Community Perspectives

Over the course of history, wildlife hunting used to be a part of human’s way of life, especially for forest dwellers. In the old time, hunting was not considered illegal or unethical. However, with the alarming rate of human-induced degradation and extinction of many plant and animal species these days, wildlife exploitation and consumption have posed serious threats to nature. Without fundamental changes of social attitudes and behaviors toward wildlife, survival of many species will be at risk.

To engage journalists in raising public awareness and societal changes on wildlife conservation, PanNature organized the training workshop “Wildlife Conservation from Cultural and Community Perspectives” at Hua Tat village, Van Ho commune, Van Ho district, Son La province, from 27-29 November 2021.

The training attracted the participation of 26 participants, including journalists, cultural and conservation experts, and local community representatives.

At the workshop, Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife and  a winner of the Goldman Prize 2021, presented the topic “Why do we need to conserve the wildlife in Vietnam?”. He highlighted biodiversity loss in Vietnam and the consequences of wildlife trading and consumption. Mr. Thai also emphasized the role of journalists in raising public awareness about wildlife protection.
“Hunting as part of tradition and culture of ethnic minorities” was the presentation of Dr. Vuong Xuan Tinh – Institute of Ethnology. According to Dr. Tinh, hunting wild animals used to be a livelihood activity of ethnic communities in mountainous areas in Vietnam. There were traditional rules and rituals attached with hunting activities, defined differently by specific ethnic communities. Due to natural resource depletion and recent government’s  regulations, hunting is less common today. Demand from the market has shifted hunting to more a commercial activity.
Trang A Tong, representing the young H’mong in Hua Tat village, shared the story of Van Ho forest – home to the endangered Northern White-cheeked Gibbon population and urgent need of protecting wildlife and their habitat in the area. Tong joined the workshop from Thai Nguyen University, where he is taking his undergraduate course.
Starting the day at 5:30 a.m, participants went to Van Ho forest to observe and hear songs of the Northern White-cheeked Gibbon.
On the second day of the training, participants were divided into two groups and moved to two different areas to search for puzzle pieces left to complete the whole picture of wildlife conservation, poaching, and trading in local communities.
Led by journalist Truong Son from VTV24, the first team had the opportunity to meet and discuss with the Van Ho Forest Protection Department representative about the area’s biodiversity value and wildlife protection.
Participants visited the sika deer farm in Hua Tat village, Van Ho commune, to learn about wildlife farming. Sika deer used to be abundant in forests in Northern Mountains of Vietnam. This species is now extinct in the wild. The captive population is maintained in local farms across Vietnam.
In the afternoon, the first group interviewed local hunters about hunting practice in the past as well as today.
The second group, led by journalist Dinh Duc Hoang, traveled to Xuan Nha Nature Reserve. The group interviewed the Head of the Forest Protection Station at Tan Xuan about the reserve’s biodiversity, difficulties and challenges in protecting forests and wildlife in this location.
The group also had a brief discussion with the head of Chieng Hin village, Xuan Nha commune, and two retired hunters to hear stories of wild animals hunting in the past.
On the last day of the training session, participating journalists and experts shared about media investigation  and journalism skills.
Journalist Truong Son shared passionately about his experiences and necessary skills for investigating illegal  wildlife trade.
Journalist Duc Hoang shared how to write effectively about policy issues and calls to action.
From these presentations and stories from the field trip, the two groups then discussed the issues and topics that journalists could deeply explore in the future.

The training course is part of the Partners Against Wildlife Crime – an EU-funded action implemented through a consortium of 12 international and national partner organizations led by the Wildlife Conservation Society. PanNature is an implementing partner in Vietnam in this initiative.
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