Vietnam, African nations target wildlife trade

Vietnam was identified as a transshipment point for international wildlife trafficking rings from Africa, primarily in Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania, during a multilateral dialogue in Hanoi on November 3.

Participants from the four countries convened to discuss ways to combat wildlife trafficking, especially the sale of ivory and rhino horns, according to Ha Thi Tuyet Nga, director of the Vietnam Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Management Authority.

Multilateral co-operation was expected to play a major role in efforts to prevent wildlife trafficking in the four countries, she said.

Le Duy Dong, deputy head of the Interpol Vietnam Office under the Ministry of Public Security, said the ministry worked with African countries from 2010-14 to handle 18 trans-national wildlife trafficking cases, including three involving Mozambique, two involving Kenya and two involving Tanzania.

Statistics from the Ministry of Public Security estimated that about 4,000-4,500 tonnes of wildlife products are illegally trafficked each year into Vietnam.

"The numbers show signs of increasing crime, despite efforts from local managerial agencies," Dong said.

Dong suggested that Vietnam sign international agreements, especially with African countries, to prevent wildlife trafficking crimes in the future.

A representative from Tanzania said the lack of co-operative agreements between Tanzania and Vietnam made it difficult for Tanzanian authorities to handle wildlife trafficking cases.

He said the Vietnamese Customs agency identified a wildlife trafficker suspected of illegally smuggling goods from Tanzania in September 2014, but the information was not passed along to Tanzania until January 2015.

A representative from Kenya, where the illegal poaching of rhinos for their horns causes headaches for managerial agencies, said bilateral and multilateral co-operation was vital to reduce wildlife trafficking crimes.

Learning about risks

The 35 biggest transport and logistic companies in Vietnam took part in a risk-management workshop in Ha Noi on Monday to discuss measures to prevent wildlife smuggling.

The workshop was organised by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Vietnam Automobile Transportation Association (VATA).

"Criminals find covert ways to move their illicit goods between suppliers, buyers and middlemen, often using unwitting transport and logistic companies to do so," said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, director of WWF Vietnam.

"By being aware of and mitigating the risk of facilitating this illegal activity, transport and logistic companies can protect both their reputation and endangered species such as rhinos," he added.

The workshop, funded by French Development Agency (AFD), provided an opportunity for the companies to explore best practices and identify highly effective solutions to challenges and risks associated with illegal wildlife trade.

The companies left the workshop with the capacity to enforce and promote their zero tolerance of endangered species trafficking.

"Risk management is a crucial component of a successful and sustainable business. By adopting a zero tolerance towards wildlife trafficking, these companies are making a strategic move to protect themselves from risks such as arrests, fines and other legal repercussions, as well as risks to their brand integrity and reputation.

"This kind of forward thinking is making such companies leaders in their field," said Nguyen Van Thanh, chairman of VATA.