Trang Nguyen grew up in Vietnam. From a young age, she was confronted with the ugliness of illegal wildlife trade, seeing chained up monkeys that were offered for sale on the streets and bears that were held to extract bile for Traditional Asian Medicine. After witnessing a bear being treated for his bile, she promised herself that she would do everything in her power to protect not only the bears, but all wildlife in Vietnam. Trang finished her PhD in Biodiversity Management, researched into the impact of wild animal part use in Traditional Asian Medicine on the African wildlife, at the University of Kent, England.
Vision and Approach
Trang is the founder and executive director of WildAct, an NGO which focuses on monitoring the illegal wildlife trade markets and provides conservation education programmes for Vietnamese youth. Since 2018, WildAct organised the first ever master course on Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade, in collaboration with the University of Vinh for Vietnamese students and early career conservationists. WildAct is also involved in providing scholarships for exceptional students to conduct their own research. This national capacity building project adds crucial value to the regional and global efforts in combating illegal trade of wildlife products in the long term, especially when Vietnam is still considered as one of the largest illegal trade hubs, transit and consumer countries. All students who signed up to the course in 2019 had now being employed as a full-time staff in wildlife conservation sector in Vietnam.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- With financial support from Future For Nature, Trang was able to create the master course ‘Combatting Illegal Wildlife Trade’ and provided 10 scholarships and 10 research grants to Vietnamese students who participated in the course;
- Through Future For Nature, Trang was able to meet and had the first collaboration with previous winner – Ofir Drori, which resulted in an arrest of 4 Cameroon smugglers with 300 kg of elephant ivory and 2.5 tons of pangolin scales in early 2019;
- As the result of Trang became the first Vietnamese woman winning Future For Nature Award and the international media attention that came with it, young people in Vietnam, especially young women have become more encouraged to follow wildlife conservation as a legitimate career. Trang also signed a contract with the largest publisher in Vietnam to create a series of picture book, based on her personal experience in wildlife conservation to encourage more young Vietnamese to get involved and positively impact nature. Her first picture book will be published at the end of 2019. 100% of royalties will be donated for conservation efforts in Vietnam;
- The Future For Nature Award helped raise awareness about the consequences of consuming wildlife products in Asia.
“Despite being very young, Trang has already made an extraordinary contribution in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. She has a very broad international understanding of wildlife trade issues. This makes her uniquely placed to play a leadership role in in her home country.” – Simon Stuart