The Viet Nam’s first pangolin education centre officially opened on Saturday on the occasion of World Pangolin Day in Ninh Binh Province’s Cuc Phuong National Park, the oldest in the country.
The centre’s innovative, interactive design aims to help visitors, especially children, enjoy learning about pangolins.
The opening is a crucial part of efforts by Save Viet Nam’s Wildlife to fight the illegal pangolin trade and raise public awareness about pangolins.
According to a survey from the organisation, 90 per cent of Vietnamese people don’t know that Viet Nam is home to two species of pangolin, the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
While public awareness is still limited, pangolins are served as specialty dishes at restaurants, used in traditional medicine, or packed and trafficked to China.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the population of the two species has declined in Viet Nam over the last two decades. The organisation has listed the two species as critically endangered, meaning they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
The opening of the education centre responded to an urgent need for engaging wildlife education in Viet Nam, said Ho Thi Kim Lan of Save Viet Nam’s Wildlife.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, a representative from the US embassy in Viet Nam said pangolin was one of the most trafficked species on earth.
“Last week, 16 pangolins were released back into the wild [by the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme, Save Viet Nam’s wildlife and the national park],” she said. “Sixteen pangolins are not a hundred, thousand nor million, but it is a ray of hope, a chance to see that we can turn the corner and save the species,” she said.