Vietnam warning follows Oxpeckers exposé

Vietnam warning follows Oxpeckers exposé

Undercover shot of a shop selling ivory carvings in Ni Khe

In a move directly linked to an Oxpeckers investigation, the Vietnamese government has warned tour operators not to support illegal wildlife product processing workshops.

Oxpeckers Associate Hongqiao Liu undertook a major undercover investigation in late 2015 into how endangered wildlife products were openly manufactured, showcased and traded in wildlife markets near Hanoi.

She exposed how these markets were flourishing in northern Vietnam, and were being used as a conduit for the smuggling of wildlife products to China.

The Vietnamese government issued a warning to the national tourism association and international tour operators in early 2016, saying the markets had been “causing negative impacts on the image of Vietnam as a tourist-attractive country”.

A statement by the Tourism Ministry referred to media reports “on the existence of open markets trading in ivory and rhino horn, and the crafts thereof” in the villages of Nhi Khe and Thuy Ung.

In her investigative feature, titled “Trafficking market goes wild in Vietnam”, Hongqiao Liu described the production, sale and smuggling of illegal wildlife products from these villages.

“This is an obvious violation of the law of Vietnam and of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” the statement said.

Several Chinese media followed up the story, including Xinhau News and China Youth Daily.

“The recent years have witnessed a steady increase in the number of foreign tourists coming to Vietnam, which is a reflection that the quality of tourism service in Vietnam and the image of our country in the eyes of foreign friends have improved,” said the statement by the Tourism Ministry.

It noted the offenders get support from tour guides speaking Chinese who act as intermediaries between sellers and tourists (mostly Chinese), guiding them to buy products made of ivory and rhino horn in shops.

“In order to strengthen the protection of rare and endangered wildlife and improve the image of the tourism industry of Vietnam, The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism hereby requests the Vietnam Tourism Association and tour operators to direct and warn the tour managers and tour guides not to take tourists to visit any illegal wildlife breeding farms and illegal wildlife product processing workshops,” the statement said.

Read “Trafficking market goes wild in Vietnam” here.
Read related investigations into Chinese smuggling links by Oxpeckers reporters here.

The official statement from the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism:

Oxpeckers’ hard work uncovering environmental crimes costs time and money. A donation of as little as R20 can help keep our journalists on the case, and keep the pressure on those looking to exploit our natural resources for personal gain.

Oxpeckers Reporters