Government, NGOs, multilaterals and companies campaign for wildlife conservation during the Southeast Asian Games in Lao PDR
Vientiane, Lao PDR, December 23, 2009 – Lao PDR government agencies, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, companies and youth volunteers have collaborated to spread a message of environmental protection and wildlife conservation to the thousands of Lao nationals and international visitors who have come to Vientiane for the 25th South East Asia Games.
The event of the SEA Games has been a great celebration and coming together of participants and spectators from across the region. It was a great occasion to highlight issues that affect everyone, and one of the key messages that link into the SEA Games theme of “generosity, amity and healthy lifestyle” is that “every time you buy wildlife… nature pays.” In Laos, illegal wildlife trafficking is punishable by law, and is the main driver of loss of wildlife in forests.
From its launch on the 26th November- the week before the Games- to the final day of the Games on Friday 18th December, the Campaign for Wildlife Conservation has been promoting a message of wildlife conservation using media including TV ads, radio spots, billboards, banners at the airports, and direct interaction with crowds attending sporting events. The “stop illegal wildlife trade” message has been well received, with motorbikes, cars and public transport displaying stickers with the campaign slogan. Over 8,000 stickers were handed out by 20 youth volunteers, some dressed in tiger and bear costumes, at markets in Vientiane and at the Games’ venues for the most popular sporting matches.
Laos’ main airports—Wattay International, Vientiane Domestic Airport, and the Luang Prabang airport—have prominent displays of wildlife banners as well as cabinets of confiscated wildlife parts to highlight the wildlife conservation message and to inform the public about the consequences of being involved in the illegal trading of wildlife. Small shops and businesses, a major minimart chain, bus stations and markets around Vientiane have participated by displaying colour posters about the consequences of illegal wildlife trade. Before and during the Games, Vientiane Capital City authorities carried out eight inspections and monitoring at 18 markets and known selling points of illegal wildlife to suppress the domestic trade.
At the launch of the campaign, Mr. Khamchen Vongphosy, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, called on the Lao people to recognise that wildlife is part of the country’s natural heritage. “The Government of Laos would like to emphasise the important role of both Lao citizens and visitors to our country in protecting our wildlife by refusing to buy, sell or consume wildlife products”, he added.
The response by government, the private sector and civil society in recognizing the importance of stopping illegal wildlife trade, for the benefit of biodiversity conservation, rural food security safety nets and for ecotourism has been incredible: 21 different agencies have been involved including Lao government - the Department of Forest Inspection (DoFI), Division of Forest Resource Conservation (DFRC) and Vientiane Capital City; international organizations - World Bank Laos, IUCN, Wildlife Conservation Society, Elefant Asia, Free the Bears, Global Tiger Initiative, Save the Tiger Fund, ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network, WWF, Freeland and USAID; and from the private sector, Green Discovery Laos, Nam Theun 2 Power Company, Theun Hinboun Power Company, Phu Bia Mining, Tiger Beer, Tigo, and Indie Records.
The momentum generated by this Campaign will not stop with the end of the SEA Games. The Action Group behind the campaign will continue to build a broad coalition among all sectors of society in Lao and the region, to combat the illegal wildlife trade and promote a healthy environment to support biodiversity conservation and rural livelihoods. For more information and continual updates, visit the website: www.wildlifetradelaos.org.
Notes to editors
About the Campaign for Wildlife Conservation
The Lao Illegal Wildlife Trade Action Group was established in 2009 and was initiated by the Lao National Department of Forest Inspection and the Division of Forest Resources Conservation. It is the role of these agencies to guard Lao PDR’s forests and protected areas through conservation and protection of biodiversity, and prevention, detection and suppression of forest and wildlife crime. The Working Group includes representatives from government, NGOs and international organizations.
An initiative of the Working Group, the Campaign for Wildlife Conservation was launched in late November 2009, to coincide with the 25th South East Asian Games in Vientiane. Globally, illegal wildlife trade is the third largest illegal trade (after arms and drugs), and South East Asia is a hotspot for the trade. Lao PDR is a source, conduit and consumer country for traded wildlife.
Ms Charlotte Hicks
IUCN, Lao PDR
Tel: +856-21-216401 ext. 124,
Mobile: +856-20 614 0051 ,
Ms Souridahak Sakonhninhom
World Bank, Lao PDR
Mobile: +856-20 222 1332