With a kick-off on World Wildlife Day, the Lao government and conservation partners have launched a new campaign that calls on every person in Laos to play a role in the shared fight against the illegal wildlife trade (IWT).
The campaign is supported by government officials, celebrities, and leaders from the business community as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has initiated the campaign with support from the German Development Cooperation project “Protection and Sustainable Use of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (ProFEB), engaging with Department of Forestry and Department of Forest Inspection, as well as collaborating with development partners Wildlife Conservation Society, Worldwide Fund for Nature, and the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife.
The collaborative efforts of these organizations have resulted in an innovative approach to addressing the serious problem of pervasive illegal wildlife trade in Laos.
“The main purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation. It will be an additional effort towards the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, with a focus on protecting forest resources, as well as Laos’ rich biodiversity and unique natural heritage.”
“Ending IWT will not only support wildlife and the environment but will also protect our health by preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases that also impact the socioeconomic development of the country. Therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to act on this,” said Mr. Sounantha Chounlamany, Deputy Director of the Department of Forest Inspection.
The campaign will utilize the strength of social media and netizens to share its messages via a Facebook page called Lao Wildlife Heroes.
Followers on the Facebook page will find informative graphics about various IWT-related issues, tips on how to dissuade someone from participating in or facilitating IWT, ways people can be a part of Laos’ conservation efforts, as well as policies on wildlife protection and other relevant topics. The same information can also be found on the campaign’s website (www.LaoWildlifeHeroes.org), which will be updated regularly with the latest news and content.
Those who follow the campaign’s Facebook page will also see videos and inspirational messages from various voices in the movement to end IWT in Laos.
These include influencer Dr. Chandaly “Naeng” Sitphaxay who will explain the risk of spreading zoonotic diseases from contact with wild animals, entrepreneur, and ecotourism pioneer Inthy Deuansavanh will share why he believes ending IWT is necessary for Laos’ economy, and Miss Universe Laos 2020 Christina Lasasima will share her love for animals and nature that was passed on to her from her parents.
As the campaign continues, the organizers hope to encourage more people with influence, both in the public and private sectors, to come forward as role models and denounce the illegal wildlife trade in Laos. Those who speak out against this practice, and actively work to end it, are Laos’ wildlife heroes.
“With this campaign, we want to contribute to positive change in the Lao PDR by providing concrete steps and calls to action that every person can easily implement in their everyday life,” said Martin Nowack, Project Director of ProFEB.
With funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) and the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime in Africa and Asia is a global initiative to reduce wildlife crime around the world and has made the production of this campaign possible with implementation by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
To join the movement to end illegal wildlife trade, follow the campaign’s Facebook page and use the #LaoWildlifeHeroes hashtag to express your support for wildlife conservation.