Hanoi restaurant campaign wants wildlife off menus

Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:09am EDT
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HANOI (Reuters Life!) - More than 150 restaurants have joined a campaign against the consumption of endangered wildlife in Vietnam's capital Hanoi, where animals from porcupines to pangolins are considered delicacies.

WWF and TRAFFIC launched the "Green Restaurant" drive to promote establishments that do not have endangered animals on the menu, and could eventually expand it to petitioning restaurants that serve wildlife, said project coordinator Julianne Becker.

"We're showing that this is something that people are thinking about now, and hopefully the more people that see this story might start thinking about it as well, and maybe wondering: why are we even doing it?" she said on Monday.

A study by TRAFFIC in 2007 said Hanoi was becoming a center for wild animal consumption as food, in health products and as ornaments, but it found that most residents did not know about legislation to protect endangered species.

A number of residents were familiar with the concept of extinction but did not make the connection between their consumption habits and the environment, it said.

An entire genre of wildlife restaurants in Hanoi keep animals like crocodiles, civets and turtles in cages to be eaten, or have jars of liquor packed with endangered snakes or lizards on their shelves.

The restaurants in the campaign signed pledges not to serve products of wildlife protected under Vietnamese law and to provide consumers with information on conservation efforts in Vietnam, WWF and TRAFFIC said in a statement about the campaign.

More than 30 student volunteers went to restaurants around town to introduce the campaign.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch, editing by Miral Fahmy)