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The first step on the journey of pangolin conservation

“I do not know anything, do not ask me!” - That is the most frequent answer which I received from local people during my field trips fews months support the project “Research and Assess the Reality of Pangolin Trade and Consumption in Vietnam” as a volunteer. 

Five months ago, I had a dream to be one of the young people in my country who will be selected to contribute to journey back to wild forest of Pangolin. Finally, my dream comes true. I was very interested, even nervous and I could not sleep at the night before training day. Although I have not seen Pangolin yet or know well about this animal, all things that I experienced nurturing my passion and motivation to protect Pangolin.

Our survey region is Hanoi city, with the total area is more than 3000km2. We decided to choose 13 representative sub-survey areas which belong to different districts. Volunteer work seems to be simple and repeated, but I know It is not like that at the first days when I started to do first interviews with local people.

Nguyet Anh interviews local people in Xuan Mai Town, Hanoi

The most memorable things are our trips to some districts which is far from center of city, such as buffer zone of Ba Vi national park. In this area, there are many ethnic communities who have lived closely to forest for a long time so that they have many experiences about Pangolin. Another district in the south of city is Huong Son – My Duc which has low topographic level and there is no forest. However, local people in this district still have many people who had hunt, traded and eaten Pangolin for many years. All the places that I have traveled to, all people that I have met, all of them brought to me different felling: fun, sadness, hopeless and even scary.

Five of nine volunteers of Hanoi team in one field trip to interview at Ba Vi National Park

Summer in Vietnam is not a stable kind of weather, sometimes it is too hot, but other times will suddenly rain. This is the same with the work of SVW’s volunteer. Yet, the more I try, the more people who are willing to answer and share their stories with me. There are many people strongly agree that they will not harm to Pangolin although they are not scientists or conservationists. That is the biggest motivation for me to continue my journey until the end of last trips.

Becoming a volunteer, things that I received not only is theoretical knowledge or information about Pangolin, but more than that. That is practical experiences, real stories form local people which make me understand and feel deeply about traditional norms and culture of my countries. Therefore, I can recognize true difficulties which journey back to the wild of Pangolins have to face now and in the future.

Submitted by Nguyet Anh

***Nguyet Anh is one of 114 dedicated volunteers of the project “Research and Assess the Reality of Pangolin Trade and Consumption in Vietnam”, conducted by Save Vietnam’s Wildlife and Humane Society International. As a leader of volunteer in Hanoi team, she supports SVW in interviewing more than 550 Hanoi citizens. She also leads and motivates her team to complete their work. She has completed her tasks with excellent result. Besides, Nguyet Anh always tries her best to spread the word to the community. That goal leads her to win the first prize of the contest “Pangolins and Friends” with the “Journey of Hope”, a hand-written diary in bi-language Vietnamese – English and illustrated with pictures. You could enjoy her innovation here.