USAID Partners with Vietnam Central Buddhist Association to Promote a Wildlife Products-free Lifestyle

In 2019, USAID Wildlife Asia teamed up with the Vietnam Central Buddhist Association (VCBA), the largest Buddhist organization in Vietnam. Through the partnership, pagodas in the cities of Hanoi and Hai Phong and the province of Bac Ninh, are promoting Counter Wildlife Trafficking (CWT) messages to visitors and devotees who come to pray and hear dharma talks or lectures on Buddhist teachings and living an ethical life. By stressing respect for animal life in dharma talks, the initiative is helping people realize that the consumption of endangered wildlife products is unacceptable.

To date, the dharma talks have encouraged nearly 3,000 people to reject illegal wildlife products. The lectures drew in active participation, with attendees asking questions and diligently replying to questionnaires at the end of these lectures.

The lectures drew in active participation. Photo: Intelligentmedia“I threw away my ivory pendant immediately when the abbott of our pagoda said that owning wildlife products is an act of indirect killing. I can’t afford to lose my blessings, regardless of how much I paid for it,” said Mr. Nguyen Duc Lap of Hanoi.   

The Venerable Thich Thanh Huan, Abbott of Phap Van Pagoda in Bac Ninh, is one of the monks who has stepped forward to become a project champion for USAID Wildlife Asia. He is using his influence to inspire others to protect wildlife.

“Buddhists are happy to help end the demand for wildlife consumption when they realize that what goes around comes around. Beyond the conservation of biodiversity, protecting animals brings about a more fortunate destiny for the individual. Phap Van Pagoda is committed to inspiring Buddhists to end their involvement in wildlife trade and consumption. We will continue organizing lectures and events and are looking forward to more impactful interventions with interested Buddhists and organizations that will help us move towards a society where all sentient beings are treated equally,” said Venerable Huan.Attendees of the lecure writing messages on the event banner. Photo: Intelligentmedia

Complementing the lectures were wildlife demand reduction campaign materials that USAID Wildlife Asia designed in collaboration with VCBA for placement in its office and at the pagodas where Buddhist people worship. In December 2019, after five months of display, the materials had been viewed by an estimated 48,000 people. 

Collaboration between USAID Wildlife Asia and the VCBA is set to continue through the establishment of a volunteer Wildlife Protection Group at Phap Van Pagoda. The group will work with USAID Wildlife Asia to design demand reduction campaign materials and activities that offer a uniquely Buddhist perspective on wildlife protection, one that will promote a new social norm of zero tolerance for the consumption of illegal wildlife products in Vietnam.