The Education for Nature estimated that about 900 bears are in captivity in over 250 private farms nationwide. Illustrative image. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Relevant agencies and localities have taken drastic measures to promote law enforcement on and increase public awareness of wildlife protection, said the Education for Nature Vietnam on May 11.

These measures have contributed to the effort to preserve biodiversity and put an end to the illegal use and trafficking of wildlife across the country.

The Health Ministry’s Agency of Traditional Medicine Administration has directed departments of health in cities and provinces to promptly set tight control on advertisement and trade of bear bile and other endangered wildlife products at local herbal medicine shops and traditional medical clinics.

The Education for Nature estimated that about 900 bears are in captivity in over 250 private farms nationwide. Though bears receive the highest level of protection in the international and Vietnamese laws, the illegal trade of bear bile and other bear products is still rampant in many cities and provinces, particularly at the herbal medicine shops and traditional medical clinics.

Last month, the health department of central Nghe An province has intensified inspection and management of local traditional medicine providers, who are prohibited to sell wildlife products, including bear bile. Meanwhile, healthcare units at town and district levels have been tasked to increase awareness of the country’s policies and law on wildlife protection among these businesses. The authority was urged to impose strict penalties on violations.

The People’s Committees of Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City have sent notices to agencies and people’s committees of their districts, communes and wards to call for strengthened measures to protect wildlife. The people’s committees requested officials and public employees to not engage in trading or consuming wildlife products, or using them as gifts.

In addition, relevant agencies were asked to educate people on harmful effects of the purchase and release of invasive alien species as well as the importance of wildlife protection. They must also conduct regular inspections of local restaurants and farms to discover violations.

In the first quarter of 2018, some 110 wildlife individuals were saved or voluntarily transferred to authorities while 132 cases were fined for including wildlife in the restaurant menus and launching outdoor and online advertising on wildlife.

Vietnam has been getting tough on wildlife protection by introducing amendments to the Penal Code that extend wildlife protection from rare, precious and endangered animals to all types of wildlife.

Under the amended Penal Code 2015, which came into force on January 1, hunting, catching, killing, rearing, caging, transporting and trading wild animals is criminalised. This extends to possession of dead animals, body parts and products of rare, precious and endangered wild animals. The maximum jail term for crimes related to wildlife management has increased to 15 years.

Violations in protecting rare, precious and endangered wildlife are also viewed as “extremely serious offence” instead of “serious offence” as stated in the previous code.-VNA