UNDERSTANDING SOCIOECONOMIC DRIVERS OF WILDLIFE TRADE IN VIETNAM

With partners in Vietnam, the CBC conducts interdisciplinary research and training to address knowledge gaps about the complexity of wildlife trade networks in Southeast Asia.

Background

The flow of wildlife trade through Vietnam (after Compton and Le Hai Quang 1998, in Sterling et al. 2006 “Vietnam: A Natural History") 

The flow of wildlife trade through Vietnam (after Compton and Le Hai Quang 1998, in Sterling et al. 2006 “Vietnam: A Natural History") 


Wildlife trade represents a major threat to endangered species, especially in Southeast Asia where trade continues at high levels despite increased efforts to control illegal activities. To identify management strategies that better mitigate the threat of this trade, research must address knowledge gaps about the complexity of the established trade network. This requires a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach that integrates biological, anthropological, and socioeconomic data and involves multiple stakeholders across sectors.

With partners in Vietnam, the CBC conducts interdisciplinary research and training to address knowledge gaps about the complexity of wildlife trade networks in Southeast Asia. An important component of our approach is employing technological advances such as DNA barcoding and other forensic tools to facilitate improved enforcement of wildlife trade regulations and gain a better understanding of trade networks. 

CBC Approach

As part of a long-term strategy to inform and improve conservation action in Vietnam, the CBC approached our long time partners at the
Centre for Natural Resources and the Environmental studies in Vietnam (CRES) and together we identified a need to fill a knowledge gap about the patterns, drivers, and scale of illicit trade in understudied animal groups such as slow lorises. With funding from the National Science Foundation to CBC Assistant Director for Research and Strategic Planning Mary Blair, we are working with partners in Vietnam and beyond to integrate biological, anthropological, and socioeconomic data towards a better understanding of patterns and drivers of trade in slow lorises and other trade-targeted species in Vietnam. An important component of our approach is employing technological advances such as DNA barcoding to enhance our understanding of trade networks and facilitate improved enforcement of wildlife trade regulations. DNA barcoding and other forensic tools can help to correctly identify species involved in the trade and clarify the pattern and scale of trade through assigning geographic provenance to traded animals. By combining DNA barcoding with morphological, anthropological, and socioeconomic data, our interdisciplinary research approach can help address knowledge gaps about the complexity of wildlife trade, and determine hotspots of trade activities as well as taxa under critical pressure. A key component of our approach is to build the capacity of researchers and managers in the region to use forensic tools and develop interdisciplinary research skills to facilitate long-term studies of the dynamic wildlife trade networks in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Mary Blair interviews a community member about wildlife trade in Central Vietnam.  Photo by Mary Blair

Dr. Mary Blair interviews a community member about wildlife trade in Central Vietnam. 

Photo by Mary Blair


Main Accomplishments

  • In 2014, our Vietnamese partner Dr. Le Minh Duc leveraged the CBC’s NSF-funded research to achieve expanded funding through the USAID Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science Program, which will expand our integrated research and training efforts through new partnerships in Cambodia and Laos.
  • Our genetic (DNA barcoding) and morphological reference database for slow lorises has laid the groundwork to facilitate the identification of species and geographic provenance of specimens confiscated in the wildlife trade.
  • Wide dissemination of our interdisciplinary research framework at international scientific conferences including the Society for Conservation Biology – Asia Section, the Association of American Geographers, and the International Primatological Congress, where project staff also organized a highly successful symposium on “Multidisciplinary studies of primates in trade”.