World Wildlife Day is celebrated globally every March 3rd to honor the birthday of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This year’s World Wildlife Day fell on the 50th Anniversary of CITES coming into existence and marked the launch of two key legislations in Lao PDR; the launching of the Government Decree implementing CITES in Lao PDR and the National Wildlife Health Surveillance Standard Operation Procedures.
The launch of the National Wildlife Health Surveillance Standard Operation Procedures is crucial and highlights the importance of One Health. In the last few decades, it has become increasingly evident that biodiversity and ecosystems conservation, our own health, and the health of wild and domestic animals are all inextricably linked. A single pathogen can wipe out the last populations of an endangered species and, in turn, threaten the stability of local human populations. There is an urgent need to simultaneously address the health of people and animals, recognizing that disease pose challenges to both conservation of the planet's biodiversity and efforts to improve the quality of human life.
H.E. Siv-Leng Chhuor, the Ambassador of France to Lao PDR, explained the importance of partnerships, “The French Development Agency (AFD) takes global action worldwide in favor of biodiversity, in particular by supporting actions dedicated to the definition, extension and management of protected areas. In Lao PDR, France supports two projects implemented by WCS, which are ECILL (for Ecosystem Conservation through Integrated Landscape management in Lao PDR) and Hotspot, whose objectives are to ensure the protection of Lao PDR forests and biodiversity while promoting the sustainably management of natural resources and an integrated landscape approach through green business practices and improved regulatory frameworks. On behalf of Team Europe, I want to underline the joint efforts of the Lao government, through the ministry of agriculture and forestry, and technical and financial partners which result in systemic and global impacts having led in particular to the launch of the new legislations we are celebrating today.”
To celebrate this year’s theme of Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation, the event was cohosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Department of Livestock and Fisheries, Department of Forestry, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Organization for Animal Health and the Working Group 15.7 on Combating Wildlife Crime. Filling the Landmark hotel in Vientiane with exhibition booths, conservation organizations came together to showcase the contributions made to sustainability, wildlife and biodiversity conservation in Lao PDR.
A preliminary surveillance study of emerging viral pathogens was presented by Institut Pasteur Laos, while Emerging Infectious Diseases and Zoonosis were highlighted by the National Animal Health Laboratory (NAHL). The Protected Area Management Division of the Department of Forestry focused on the importance of biodiversity and landscape conservation, while combating wildlife crime and wildlife rescue efforts were amplified by Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN) representative and by Free the Bears.
Partnerships are key in wildlife conservation; they serve as an opportunity to highlight best practices, collaborate on actions to protect wildlife and amplify our efforts.