People called on to reduce wildlife meat demand(2nd LD) PPP leader urges return of top envoy to Australia amid corruption probe

Hanoi: The USAID Biodiversity Conservation has launched a wild meat demand reduction campaign urging government agencies and Vietnamese citizens nationwide to enhance their actions for wildlife conservation. 'The Vietnamese new year is a good occasion to reflect on our harmonious coexistence and stewardship for wildlife and nature as an imperative to appreciate and safeguard biodiversity and uphold the nation's international conservation commitments," said Vu Van Hung, Director of Sustainable Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation (VFBC) project. Meanwhile, Director of Office of Climate Change, Energy, and Environment/USAID Vietnam Annie Wallace shared: "USAID stands with the Vi?t Nam government and all citizens in the collective effort to conserve the country's wildlife and natural habitats. We encourage everyone to be active partners by becoming stewards of nature and wildlife and by helping to reduce demand for the consumption of wildlife.' For generations, people in Vietnam have been consuming wildlife meat and other products. The persistent demand for these products has led to a severe decline in the populations of wildlife in the country's natural habitats. A survey on wild meat consumption conducted by WWF-Vietnam in 2021 reveals that 90% of wild animals hunted illegally end up mainly in urban restaurants and the average consumption per a consumer of wildlife meat is seven times per year. These crucial findings highlight the urgency of better action plans to reduce wildlife consumption across sectors and at multiple levels. This entails significant investment in increasing public awareness through communication channels to actively curb both the illegal wildlife trade and the consumption of wildlife meat. Moreover, in the upcoming period, ongoing efforts are essential to strengthen the enforcement of biodiversity conservation laws, with a focus on integrating and implementing biodiversity conservation requirements into the national macro-policy planning process. "While we work to support the improvement of law enforcement and conservation activities inside Vi?t Nam's forest protected areas, to give wildlife populations a chance to survive and recover from the decades of decline, it's crucial to stop the illegal consumption of wildlife meat," said Nick Cox, Chief of Party, USAID Biodiversity Conservation project, WWF. The campaign is promoting its messages through social media platforms and public engagement activities across the country./. Source: Vietnam News Agency Ruling party leader Han Dong-hoon urged law enforcement Sunday to summon the ambassador to Australia home amid the ongoing investigation into his alleged interference in a military probe into the death of a Marine. Han Dong-hoon, the interim leader of the ruling People Power Party, made the remarks as criticism is growing over the controversial departure of Ambassador Lee Jong-sup to the host country last week despite him being a subject in the investigation. "The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) has to subpoena (Lee) immediately and the ambassador has to return immediately," Han told reporters at the party's headquarters in western Seoul. "I don't think it's an issue over which we should engage in political bickering ahead of the elections and cause distress to the people." Lee, a former defense minister, is suspected of exerting undue influence in the Marines' internal probe into the death of Cpl. Chae Su-geun, who died last July during a search mission amid heavy rains. Critics say that Lee's appointment and letting him leave the country to take up the top envoy post amount to helping a suspect flee overseas. The issue is increasingly drawing attention weeks before the April general elections. In an interview with the public broadcaster KBS, Lee said he was ready to return home at any time upon the CIO's request. "If the CIO investigates, I will return home tomorrow," he said in the interview aired late Sunday. Lee added that it has been arranged with the CIO that he will undergo questioning when he returns to Seoul to attend a chiefs-of-diplomatic missions meeting in April. Lee maintained that the criticism over his appointment and departure is a political offensive and wrong framing. "I don't cling to the position," he said. "I will do my best so that (the probe) won't affect the carrying out of my duty as ambassador." Han also suggested that Hwang Sang-moo, senior presidential secretary for civil and social agenda, should step down over intimidating remarks he made to reporters last week. The public broadcaster MBC reported Thursday that Hwang, a former KBS news anchor, brought up during lunch with some reporters a 1988 stabbing case of a journalist by soldiers of the military intelligence command. Recalling that the journalist was stabbed twice in the thigh in the attack for writing a column criticizing the military at the time, Hwang told the MBC reporters to "listen carefully," in what may seem to be an apparent warning to the media against running anti-government stories. "It was a remark that does not measure up to the public's expectations, and the secretary must decide on his next course of action," Han said. MBC reported that Hwang also raised suspicions about the civilians-led 1980 democracy uprising in the southern city of Gwangju, alluding to the possible involvement of some professionally trained groups, including from North Korea, besides the ordinary citizens who took part in the revolt. During the nine-day revolt in May 1980, the military junta, led by late former President Chun Doo-hwan, ruthlessly cracked down on civilians. Official data put the death toll at over 200 and thousands wounded, but critics argue that as many as 2,000 people were killed. The suspected involvement of North Korea in the Gwangju incident is an oft-cited claim by hard-line conservatives in South Korean politics. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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