Vietnam considers wildlife trade ban in response to coronavirus pandemic
by Michael Tatarski
- Last month, conservation organizations sent an open letter to Vietnam’s prime minister recommending action against the wildlife trade as a means of preventing future outbreaks of disease, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- In response, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc tasked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with drafting a ban on the trade and consumption of wildlife by April 1.
- The COVID-19 outbreak has been relatively contained in Vietnam, with 75 confirmed infections at the time of writing, but the economic impact is severe.
- Conservationists hope to see strong enforcement on both the supply and demand sides of the wildlife trade.
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — As the coronavirus pandemic continues its deadly onslaught around the world, the Vietnamese government has moved to ban the wildlife trade.
Amid scientific theories that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began at a market in Wuhan, China, that sold live wild animals and animal parts, a group of conservation organizations sent an open letter to Vietnam’s prime minister on Feb. 16.
The organizations, based both within Vietnam and abroad, called on Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to “take strong and sustainable actions to halt all illegal wildlife trade and consumption in Vietnam.”
“The emergence of COVID-19, with initial evidence of a link between virus host and transmitters from wildlife, pushed us to bring it to the attention of policymakers to address the risk, as well as the need to protect wild animals,” Trinh Le Nguyen, executive director of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), a Hanoi-based conservation organization that signed the letter, said in an email. “In addition, we call on the government to enforce wildlife protection laws and eliminate the illegal trade and consumption.”
Prime Minister Phuc responded on March 6 by tasking the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) with formulating directives to ban the trade and consumption of wildlife and submit them to the government for review by April 1. MARD did not respond to request for comment.