A university in central Vietnam is enrolling students for the country’s first master’s degree course in wildlife trafficking.
The short-term educational program, jointly run by Vinh University in Nghe An Province and Vietnam-based conservation charity WildAct, is offered on campus between February 18 and April 12.
WildAct director Nguyen Thi Thu Trang said the nongovernmental organization had nurtured the course over the past three years by laying its groundwork before working with the university’s School of Biochemical Technology-Environment to finally translate the intention into reality.
The interdisciplinary course aims to provide students with approaches and solutions to challenges posed by the illegal trade and use of wild animal products.
It is taught by lecturers from the university’s biology, economics and law departments, and includes talks by representatives from wildlife charities operating in Vietnam such as TRAFFIC, Fauna and Flora International – Vietnam Program, Free the Bears, Animals Asia Foundation, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Asian Turtle Program and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Vietnam ranks 16th globally in biodiversity but many experts say the Southeast Asian country is one of the world’s hot spots for wildlife trafficking.
It has an important position in the smuggling of wildlife products, including ivory, according to Environmental Investigation Agency – an NGO with undercover probes that expose transnational wildlife crime.
Since 2009, around 56 tonnes of ivory has been seized in Vietnam alone and more than 20 tonnes in countries related to it, the UK-based organization said.
The figures mean that around 11,414 elephants have been illegally killed during the period, the organization added.