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ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM

Campaign to take wild animals off the menu

07 July 2010 | 11:58:00 AM

Wild porcupine, weasel, boars and other jungle residents in Vietnam would feel a little more secure about their future if they knew about a campaign named “Green Restaurant” being launched in some of the country’s northern cities.

 

Restaurants can still please their customers with the products of their farmhouse
At least 150 restaurants in the northern city of Nam Dinh will be the target of a campaign named “Green Restaurant” which was launched early this February by the Blue and Green Environment club. The movement encourages eateries to banish wild animal meat from their menus.
 

So far the club has 10 members and around 40 volunteers. They are assisted by the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment and are under the consultancy of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
According to the leader of the club, Pham Dinh Ngoc, products made from wild animals, like wine infused with bear bile, deer fetus or gecko, are very popular in the area.
“That’s why we decided to launch the campaign here,” he says. “We hope to raise local people’s awareness and change their behavior to protect the endangered wildlife.”
The Green Restaurant Campaign aims to have a list of at least 150 committed restaurants in NamDinhCity by June. They don’t have much time, but Ngoc and his team are still very confident that they will succeed, partly fuelled by the progress of a similar program carried out in the capital city last year.
The pilot scheme in Hanoi was part of a project called “A Matter of Attitude - Reducing Consumption of Wildlife Products” engaged by the World Wildlife Fund in the Greater Mekong Sub region and a wildlife trade monitoring network (TRAFFIC). The program was funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and was implemented by 30 student volunteers in Hanoi.
Aiming at changing the behavior of local people on wild animals and reducing the use of wildlife products, the campaign has attracted 150 restaurants who have agreed not to supply products made from wild animals.
One member, Nguyen Thi Binh, manager of Com Lam Pac Bo Restaurant at 437 Au Co Street, Hanoi, said restaurateurs are well aware that it is illegal to sell products made from wild animals. Instead of hunting them from jungle, Com Lam Pac Bo as well as many other restaurants are now seeking the supply of porcupines, weasels, or boars from farmhouses.
“Because of a rising popularity in wild meat among local gastronomers, many farmhouses in the country have expanded and now raise these animals to supply restaurants,” said Binh. “At present, we are still serving boar and porcupines which are taken from our own farmhouse. We’ve just heard about a farmhouse in the south that is raising varan and we will contact them to supply us with varan meat." Meanwhile, Ong Rung Restaurant at 27 Ngu Xa Street, Hanoi, has taken some of their special dishes and “medicine wine” off the menu because of their wild origins.
“Even though we no longer sell those dishes, we are still famous for producing some of the best medical herb wine and honey wine in town,” a member of staff at the restaurant shared, “and our customers are still very pleased with our tasty dishes which are now beef-focused.”
The list of
Hanoi’s green restaurants is published on the websites of WWF and other sites of government agencies and non-governmental organizations in Vietnam. These sites also supply information on wild animals that are often traded and on the brink of extinction in Vietnam and instruct readers on what to do if they witness the trade or hunting of wild animals. Through such campaigns, the WWF hopes that Vietnamese people will think of the threats to the environment whenever they make purchases.
Three local travel agencies – Intrepid, Buffalo Tours and I-Travel – have committed to encouraging their customers to eat at the green restaurants and have posted lists of such eateries on their websites. After the success of the two projects in Hanoi and Nam Dinh, the WWF hopes that this campaign will be implemented in many other provinces in the country and even on an international scale.
 Lan Hieu
(MONRE, 7/10/2010)

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