Today, in honour of World Wildlife Day, the U.S. Mission in Hanoi – Vietnam, along with the government of Vietnam and Freeland, launched Operation Game Change (OGC), a new alliance aimed at ending wildlife crime, especially rhino horn trafficking. OGC will raise public awareness through a national short film festival and spark a reduction in demand for illegal wildlife, while simultaneously improving bilateral and global ties in environmental security.
The launch took place at the Hanoi University of Pharmacy, where the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. Ted Osius, along with MARD Minister, Mr. Cao Duc Phat; MONRE Vice Minister, Mr. Bui Cach Tuyen; Executive Director Freeland, Mr. Steve Galster; and rhino ambassador Mr. Anh Tuan highlighted the critical threat to the world’s rhino population and suggested ways to combat wildlife trafficking.
U.S. Ambassador Osius said, “There is more to the story, though, than just protecting the endangered species of the world and the places they live in. Reducing wildlife trafficking is also about protecting national security. Wildlife crime is undermining the rule of law in all of our countries, the United States and Vietnam included. It is funding criminal networks to the tune of approximately USD 20 billion a year according to experts…. Vietnam’s Prime Minister Dung’s directive on wildlife trafficking together with President Obama’s national strategy to combat wildlife trafficking has sparked new opportunities and momentum for us to take stronger action together against wildlife crime.”
The OGC national short film festival invites amateur and professional filmmakers to produce short films about wildlife trafficking in Vietnam. Selected entries will be provided with production funding and a mentor program to help produce films to be showcased at a high-profile national film festival in Hanoi in September.