Nguyen Van Thai – the owner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, with 20 years of saving pangolins and wild animals
Now, many Vietnamese are able to own their own conservation projects.
I wonder why not many Vietnamese have demonstrated leadership in conservation in Vietnam. Why do we have to rely on foreign resources and not stand up and pull together and come up with appropriate approaches? That prompted me to set up the Wildlife Conservation Center in Vietnam.
Nguyen Van Thai – Founder and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Center in Vietnam
Protecting wild animals
In June 2021, Mr. Nguyen Van Thai – 39 years old, founder and executive director of the Center for Wildlife Conservation in Vietnam – is one of six people in the world to be awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. the world’s largest environmental award, honoring individuals who have made great efforts to contribute to environmental activities.
The prize is worth 200,000 USD, equivalent to 4.6 billion VND. Before that, Mr. Thai also received the Future for Nature international prize worth 50,000 euros. The total value of the two prizes is more than 6 billion VND, both of which are used by him for wildlife conservation.
Before founding the Wildlife Conservation Center in Vietnam in 2014 with the savings accumulated after two years studying in Australia, Mr. Thai had 9 years of experience working in the field of conservation in the Park. Cuc Phuong country.
He said then and now, his dream is to set up a conservation organization of the Vietnamese people, together with specialized agencies to come up with sustainable and long-term solutions.
Around Cuc Phuong National Park, the center has programs for 15,000 students in the buffer zone to experience nature. Mobilize and persuade 1,119 people in the buffer zone to sign a commitment not to eat, not to use, not to hunt and trade wild animals.
The center’s staff and the forest ranger’s representatives went to the communes to propagate and disseminate the law, clearly stating the levels of handling when hunting each type of wild animal to the people, including those working in the forest.
Although there have been cases where wildlife hunters have been jailed, the center’s job is not to push people into prison, but to let them understand, respect the law and take action to quit. hunting. Trust center, people become the eyes and ears for the organization, there is a poaching case they contact to denounce.
Many videos shot by members of the forest protection team in the middle of the forest about trapped animals have attracted 2-3 million views on the Facebook page “Together with me to protect Pu Mat forest”. Through these videos, the center sends out the message “eating one animal, but the person who ate the meat of wild animals indirectly killed thousands of other animals”.
Currently, the act of trading, transporting, possessing, slaughtering and advertising wild animals is prohibited, but using wild animals is not prohibited. Many people who were invited, given gifts… still thought they were innocent. In the coming time, Mr. Thai and the center will lobby the authorities to pass penalties and sanctions to reduce the need to use and protect wildlife in Vietnam more effectively.
Sasa is organized like a family. We work together at sea, not delving into each other’s personal lives. We have no need to be famous, in the sea during the day, home at night. We choose to live frugally and simply, minimizing material needs to save money to nurture corals and marine life.
Le Chien – founder of Sasa Marine Rescue Center
Farmers of the Sea
At the end of June 2018, Le Chien (37 years old) participated in the rescue of an injured dolphin, named Sasa, near the beach of Da Nang. During the night of June 29 and early morning of June 30, 2018, they lifted Sasa above the water to stabilize his breathing, balance and reassurance.
Despite giving Sasa the best efforts, the dolphin only lived a few more days. This sad incident helped Chien realize that Vietnam needs effective marine life rescue work.
In July 2018, Chien decided to establish the Sasa Marine Life Rescue Center in Da Nang with the goal of rescuing marine creatures, revitalizing damaged coral reefs on the central coast, and repairing damage caused by sea creatures. harm caused by humans. To date, this job has taken up the entire team’s time.
The longest rescue and medical care case was for a sea turtle for 6 months with a total cost of 360 million VND. Recreating a broken coral branch costs 200,000 VND, a bottle of coral glue the size of a beer can costs 2.5 million VND. From 2018 until now, Chien and members of Sasa Marine Life Rescue Center (Sasa Team) have spent billions of dong in the ocean.
Many people ask “Where is the money?”, but money is not their first problem. Sasa Team has people who are engineers, accountants, tour guides, environmental researchers, doctors, diving teachers … and are quite special in their expertise, so making money is not too difficult.
They are willing to do 2-3 things at a time, go to work in the winter, go to the sea in the summer, or spend the accumulated money in 2 years to work for a few months for the ocean. At its peak, Sasa had 30 members. Chien said that Sasa operates in the spirit of living and dedicating to the sea, being financially independent, not asking for funding, although some people message to support money or fish, squid for turtles and dolphins.
So far Sasa Team has rescued more than 100 sea turtles, nearly 40 dolphins both directly and indirectly. Their regular daily work is to regenerate corals, cut ghost nets. Sasa is the first unit to popularize the concept of “ghost nets” and remove ghost nets in Vietnam.
The ghost nets cleared by Sasa Team weigh tons, are kilometers long, are a mobile killing machine in the ocean. Sasa once rescued a turtle that was completely cut off by a ghost net and completely cut off the flesh and bones of the left front oars.
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the ocean is resting, and according to Chien, this is a great opportunity to regenerate the reef. The most difficult thing about working in the sea is the knowledge of ocean biology, ecology of corals and reefs.
All members are self-improvement knowledge every day. Calling Sasa Team a farmer of the sea is also reasonable, when they meticulously pick up each broken coral branch to bring back to attach on white coral bones or on a homemade coral nursing table. They are also serious supervisors when regularly reminding cruise ship owners not to anchor in the reef in Son Tra (Da Nang).
Le Thi Trang guides primary school students in Son Tra district to visit Son Tra peninsula in 2014
Teach children to protect 7 endangered species
Talking with “Biodiversity Hotspot Hero” in 2020 Le Thi Trang (35 years old) during the COVID-19 outbreak in June 2021, Trang shared about her new job: national coordinator for NGOs American profits LVDI International, focused on nature conservation education.
In this new role, Trang is in charge of the Little Green Guards education program – aimed at primary school students, especially students in the poor mountainous countryside in the Central region.
Trang said that she used to think that her life only had one mission to stick with Son Tra langur forever, but then at each stage of her life, she was happy and lucky to be able to find a goal to pursue.
According to Trang, the people who have lived, worked and loved Da Nang are the heroes who stood up to speak out about the need to protect Son Tra and create change.
From the story of Son Tra, Trang was motivated to work in a field… it took a long time to see the results of environmental education, building pride and love of nature for children in the Central region, so that when they grow up When they grow up, they become guardians of the environment of their homeland.
“I believe pride and aspiration to live sustainably with the environment must be formed early on. In the future, today’s students will have the knowledge to make decisions from the local side, wisely advise, and wisely criticize policies “- Trang said.
Currently Trang and her two mentors, Dr Chia Tan and Andy Phillips, are creating a new nature education program called “Save the Magnificent Seven”. In particular, the lessons will guide the students to learn about the endangered species in the Central Truong Son area.
Besides 7 endangered species including saola, tiger, pangolin, Truong Son striped hare, brown-shanked douc, Central hung-cheeked gibbon and star pheasant, students will also have the opportunity to learn more about the animals Other unique wildlife in the area, each of which is a source of national pride.
To support these educational conservation efforts, 30 local volunteers were invited to join Trang and LVDI International this year.
In many years of working in conservation, Trang shared that the most frequently asked question is whether she can make a living as a conservationist because she only has one motorbike and lives at her mother’s house. “I feel very rich.
We go to work and still have a salary, not as high as in business but have other resources. For example, if I travel around Vietnam now, I won’t have to worry about spending money on housing and food. Moreover, I know how much I need, so I never feel deprived,” Trang shared.