From: Associated Press
Published November 19, 2004 12:00 AM

Vietnam, Laos Agree to Cross-Border Wildlife Protection

HANOI, Vietnam − Vietnam and Laos signed an agreement Friday to promote wildlife protection along their border, especially in vital areas where endangered species are in peril.


The agreement, signed by forestry officials from the communist nations at the World Conservation Union meeting in Thailand, would help protect rare species such as the clouded leopard, Asian elephant and large-antlered muntjac deer.


"While individual actions and political will within countries is important, unless real efforts are made at stopping the border trade, the problem will not be resolved," Teresa Serra, director of environmental and social development at the World Bank's East Asia and Pacific region said in a statement.


Transborder wildlife smuggling is a major factor leading to the demise of endangered species that are prized as delicacies or for medicinal purposes in Asia. The agreement brings together a wide range of parties, including border guards, provincial officials and the military to help crack down on illegal animal hunting and trafficking.


The plan will also work to enhance conservation awareness among local people living in four border provinces and will strive to strengthen cooperation between the local officials on both sides of the border.


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The World Bank is particularly interested in conservation efforts in and around the site of a proposed dam for a new power project that will involve two provinces in Laos and two in Vietnam. The site also houses large protected zones -- including the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area in Laos -- where small populations of endangered endemic species like the Douc langur in Vietnam only exist.


Source: Associated Press


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