In June 2018, three members of Turtle Sanctuary’s office traveled to Vietnam to meet with representatives of establishments visited during a previous trip in March 2018. The aim was to enable the entire management team to identify issues and validate projects initiated 3 months ago.
This mission began in Hanoi, where we met our Vietnamese Thong staff member who accompanied and guided us during our stay in the capital and its surroundings. It was on this occasion that we visited Soc Son district, where there is the only state institution dedicated to saving wild animals confiscated from poachers. We have seen how critical is the need for infrastructure and facilities, both technical and human.
In the face of the authorities’ determination to fight against the poaching of wild animals, the seizures of tigers, bears, king cobras, turtles and other gibbons continue to increase. These ever larger numbers are kept in crowded pens for several months, before being released when possible.
It is with enthusiasm that Turtle Sanctuary will contribute very soon to the improvement of the conditions of detention of the reptiles given to the center.
Our trip continued in the Cuc Phuong National Park, where different wildlife protection centres are based (Save Vietnam Wildlife (SVW), Turtle Conservation Center (TCC), Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC)); we had the opportunity to have a long discussion with the director of TCC, Mr Do Thanh Hao with whom a frank collaboration is expected for the years to come.
We then traveled to the center of Vietnam to Danang, an exponentially growing city, whose surroundings still include a few rare protected areas where an extraordinary wild life persists in remote areas. It is these last “hotspots” of biodiversity that Turtle Sanctuary wishes to keep up with the risks of looting and major destruction.
The visit of the Bach Ma National Park was the highlight of this Vietnamese trip. We were honored to be greeted by a delegation including the president, the director, and the park’s financial and administrative officers.
Among other things, it was agreed to create a reptile and amphibian rescue center. In the absence of dedicated structures, local authorities do indeed have an urgent need to have available capacity to cope with the seizures of turtles, lizards and snakes in the region. Turtle Sanctuary will provide support and expertise in these projects.
A few days trip to Laos closed this intense stay. It was an opportunity to discover a welcoming country, analyze the situation in terms of protection of biodiversity and establish parallels with its neighbor Vietnam. We also found a fellow expatriate, whose projects will, we are convinced, contribute greatly in the coming years to the protection of reptiles of Southeast Asia.
The three crew members of Turtle Sanctuary will return to Europe after 15 days of travel well filled, luggage full of concrete projects in favor of Asian herpetofauna.
Scheduled for the fall of 2018, the next mission of Turtle Sanctuary leaders will allow for a number of partnerships with Vietnamese actors and various local organizations.