Trang Nguyen is working to end illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam and Internationally. At a young age, she witnessed the harvesting of bile from a live bear to be used in Traditional Asian Medicine. Since then, she decided to start the NGO WildAct focussed on monitoring the international wildlife trade. Trang now devotes her time to researching and monitoring the markets for illegal wildlife products. Her research has taken her across continents and contexts, from Asia to Africa, while exploring the demand for wildlife products. Besides research, Trang and her team also invest in educating and raising awareness on this subject among Vietnamese youth.
Trang Nguyen grew up in Vietnam, where the demand for wildlife and their body parts is high. From an early age, she dreamt of becoming a wildlife conservationist, so she went to the UK to study conservation. But life had another quest lined up for her. During the rhino poaching crisis in Africa where Vietnam was recognised as one of the main consumers, traders and transit countries, Trang focused her attention on the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam, and internationally. When she was just 23 years old, she founded her Conservation NGO WildAct. Trang has also worked for a number of international conservation organizations, such as Flora & Fauna International, Wildlife Conservation Society and TRAFFIC – monitoring the illegal wildlife trade. In 2018, Trang finished her PhD in Biodiversity Management at the University of Kent, England. Her research focused on the impact of wild animal part use in Traditional Asian Medicine on the African wildlife.
Vision and Approach
Trang believes more can be achieved when we rid ourselves of prejudice and work together to solve problems. Her motivation to stop wildlife trade and improve the condition of Vietnamese wildlife has pushed her to start the NGO WildAct. Since its founding, WildAct has grown to become an influential organisation in the fight against illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam. Trang and her team actively monitor the trade and demand for wildlife products across borders, from Africa to Asia. They couple their intense monitoring efforts with education and awareness campaigns focused on reducing the demand for these products. Since 2018, WildAct organised the first 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. Unfortunately, Vietnam is still one of the largest wildlife trade hubs, transit, and consumer countries. Through their training programmes, Trang and her team are building the capacity of Vietnam’s wildlife conservation sector. This way, they hope to change the behaviours of current and future consumers of wildlife products. And more recently, WildAct was awarded with the USAID Rise Challenge to end Gender Based Violence and Gender Inequality by empowering women in the nature conservation sector.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- With financial support from Future For Nature Foundation, Trang created the master course ‘Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade’, and provided 150 scholarships and 150 research grants to students who participated in the course;
- Through the Future For Nature Family, Trang met and formed a collaboration with previous winner Ofir Drori. This resulted in an arrest of 4 Cameroon smugglers with 300 kg of elephant ivory and 2.5 tons of pangolin scales in early 2019;
- Trang became the first Vietnamese woman to win the Future For Nature Award. The international media attention she received encouraged young people in Vietnam, especially women, to follow wildlife conservation as a career.
- Trang signed a contract with the largest publisher in Vietnam to create a series of picture books based on her personal experience in wildlife conservation. The book has been sold to Pan Macmillan Publisher in the UK and Penguin Random House in the US and expected to be published in both countries in 2021.
"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 her home country."Mr. Simon Stuart, International Selection Committee