Vietnam is currently focussing on law enforcement and awareness raising campaigns to reduce the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife, a senior official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

Speaking at an APEC workshop on the reduction of illegal wildlife consumption in Hanoi on October 21, Nguyen Ba Ngai, Deputy Director General of the ministry’s Forestry Department, highlighted the dramatic extent of the illegal trade in wildlife which is now a serious issue in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region. Wildlife trade causes significant economic losses for governments, as well as damaging ecosystems and reducing biodiversity.

He gave an overview of the Vietnamese Government’s efforts to address the issue, such as the special decree issued by the Prime Minister in February 2014 instructing all ministries and sectors to undertake maximum efforts to tackle the trade.

In addition, Vietnam launched a number of conservation programmes for rare species, such as domestic elephants and tigers.

Furthermore, the government is in the process of amending laws to increase fines for wildlife crimes, he added.

Vietnam’s CITES Management Authority and the US Department of State jointly hosted the workshop, which aimed to exchange knowledge and experience, and devise plans to address the issue in a bid to boost APEC’s role in the field of wildlife conservation.

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is an international agreement between governments that aims to monitor the international trade of specimens to ensure the survival of animals and plants in the wild.-VNA