Monday, November 26, 2007

A United Nations Messenger of Peace has beenin Vietnam carrying a plea to young Vietnameseto become active in protecting wildlife

On November 9, the 73-year-old Jane Goodall, who is known as the foremost expert on the chimpanzee, and more recently as a staunch supporter of animal rights, visited a wildlife rescue center in Cu Chi District of HCM City.

She spent many minutes talking to and fondling a vuon bac ma (Hylobates concolor leucogenis), one of a species of gibbon, and a one-year-old sun bear, which is also know as the dog bear, among 189 animals of 10 endangered species at the center.

This was part of Goodall’s two-day visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Wildlife At Risk organization to publicize her international program for young people called Roots and Shoots, which teaches the need to respect all living things.

Goodall said that when she was talking with some Vietnamese, she asked them why they ate wild animals. One told me that their eating wild tortoise meat was like my eating pork, she said. But I told them that they are different because tortoises or animals like that are wild and are endangered.

She was not very surprised with the answer because before visiting Vietnam she had read news stories about the trade in wild animals mainly for medicinal products, and about the practice of keeping in cages wild animals even as big as tigers and bears. Goodall said she knew there were strict rules to protect wildlife but people did not obey the laws.

Talking with hundreds of students at universities as well as with young entrepreneurs, the old lady, who has acted as a protector of wild animals for the past 50 years, said that schools in Vietnam should organize a lot of trips for their students to animal rescue centers like that in Cu Chi, so that “they, too, can talk with the animals and learn how it is easy to love them. Then, the young people will have a better awareness of the need to protect Vietnam’s wild animals.

She said she hoped that more people would get involved with the WAR group or the Roots and Shoots program so that no longer would animals like the rare gibbon and young sun bear she met at the Cu Chi Center end up at restaurants or at rescue centers.
Today, Goodall devotes nearly all her time acting as an advocate for chimpanzees in particular and the environment in general.