Two Vietnamese youth attend int'l tiger summit

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Summit seeks to raise awareness of global tiger conservation efforts

Le Minh Quoc (L), 21, and Doan Hoang An, 25 will represent Vietnam at the International Youth Tiger Summit in Russia from November 18-24

Two Vietnamese youths flew to Russia on Wednesday (November 17) to attend the ongoing International Youth Tiger Summit held in Vladivostok.

The week-long conference aims to raise awareness of the conservation status of the endangered big cat.

Le Minh Quoc, 21, an Information Technology student at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Sciences and Doan Hoang An, 25, a graduate of the College of Saint Benedict, will join other "ambassadors" from the 13 tiger range countries and international donors attending the event.

The main goal of the Summit, organized by the WWF (previously World Wildlife Fund), is to develop a Youth Declaration on tiger conservation, which will be presented at a parallel summit via video-conference between Vladivostok and St. Petersburg next week.

A high-level International Tiger Forum, hosted by Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be held in St. Petersburg from November 21 24. Apart from the tiger range countries, high-level government representatives from donor countries such as the EU and the US, and heads of international institutions and organizations (World Bank, GTI, GTF, WWF, TRAFFIC, etc...) have also been invited.

"The tiger summit is the first-ever heads of government meeting focused on a single, nonhuman species," according to WWF. "It thus is a landmark in nature conservation."

Students and young professionals attending the Youth Summit as delegates will visit the tiger habitat and tiger trails, get first-hand information on the state of the wild population and the necessary measures for its conservation.

The summit is aimed at drawing people's attention to the importance of conservation, as well as to convey to all the idea that "in order to save our planet everyone must help," the organizers said.

Each range country will send two young ambassadors from 18 to 25 years of age.

Ambassadors will share information, stories and their first-hand experience on tigers and wildlife during the summit in Vladivostok through a blog.

WWF Vietnam selected An and Quoc from a pool of 500 applicants.

"Quoc was selected due to his eagerness to learn and share new things with others as well as his love of nature and wildlife which becomes apparent whenever he speaks on the subject," WWF said.

Meanwhile, An's mature philosophy on conservation and environmental issues and creativity in problem solving, were key to her being chosen as an ambassador, it added.

"We want to send a message to the summit that Vietnamese youth are always willing to get involved in conservation of wildlife," Quoc told Thanh Nien Weekly via email. "Tiger conservation is not an issue belonging to a single country but to the whole world. We hope country leaders will pay more attention to this urgent problem and help the youth get involved."

Quoc said that youth ambassadors and conservationists from different countries will confer on how to raise global awareness of tiger conservation at the summit in Russia this week.

"After the summit, we will bring our experiences into action. Specifically, we will connect with local youth groups to campaign about tiger conservation in our home communities," he said.

The two youths have actively worked to raise awareness of tiger protection in Vietnam though discussion about threats to tigers in the country, feasible conservation projects and ways to make leaders pay attention to tiger extinction.

Last week, the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC released a report entitled "Reduced to Skin and Bones" which revealed that more than 1,000 tigers had been butchered by traffickers in the last decade.

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