Staff from Four Paws - a Vietnamese non-governmental organisation - and forest rangers in the northern province of Ninh Binh rescue two bears that had been held captive for 15 years at a house in Ninh Binh province (Photo: VNA)

Binh Dinh (VNS/VNA) - Leaders from 25 business associations in central provinces have pledged to combat illegal wildlife consumption by adopting new programmes to shed light on wildlife crime and the myths about consumption that are driving the trade in Vietnam.

The leaders were attending a workshop in Quy Nhon city, central Binh Dinh province, over the weekend held by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

At the workshop, the business associations developed a plan to integrate wildlife protection into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

They also pledged in writing to use their influence to inspire others and step up as champions to protect endangered wildlife species.

“By pledging to be agents of change, these leaders can affect policy decisions in their organisations and disseminate key messages through their networks -- all of which help drive Vietnam towards a complete cessation in illegal wildlife trade and consumption,” said Michael Greene, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director.

[Humans push wildlife populations to the brink]

The workshop was held as part of USAID Wildlife Asia’s Chi Phase III Initiative, a social marketing initiative geared towards reducing demand for rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products. The previous two phases of this Initiative, led by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, have overseen the training of more than 20,000 businesspeople on incorporating wildlife-protection into their CSR activities. Businesspeople are a specific target audience of the Chi Initiative as they have been identified as a key rhino horn user group in past TRAFFIC research.

High-profile companies that have joined the initiative include the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group, Sun Group, Quang Vinh Ceramic Company and the Body Shop.-VNS/VNA