Story | 24 Feb, 2023

Volunteers and turtle conservation in Viet Nam: what’s been achieved

On 10 December 2022, IUCN organised an award ceremony for marine turtle conservation volunteers working for its country office in Viet Nam. The aim was to recognize their efforts over the last eight years, to exchange knowledge, and to mobilise additional resources for sea turtle conservation in the country. 

The event brought together officials from Con Dao and Nui Chua National Parks, as well as from Hon Cau Marine Protected Area, where the volunteer programme was hosted. More than 50 volunteers also participated. 

The IUCN Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Program has been running since 2014. It has raised public awareness of the importance of sea turtle conservation and provided a way for volunteers to help forest rangers protect nesting beaches, move thousands of eggs to “head start” facilities, release new born turtles into the sea, and remove beach debris.

At the ceremony, the winners of four categories of photos, videos, project ideas and most public vote were announced. Nine volunteers received prizes with a total value of 45 million VND (around $1900 in USD). The establishment of the IUCN Sea Turtle Alumni was also announced. 

Ms. Bui Thi Thu Hien, a project manager at IUCN, summarised the sea turtle conservation activities over the years, pointing out that the number of female volunteers has now reached 70%. Many volunteers have registered to join the program several times, with the number of returnees rising steadily since 2014. Meanwhile, some volunteers pointed to the long application process and slow responsiveness as something that IUCN can improve on. 

“I hope the program will receive more feedback from volunteers so that the preparation and planning becomes more professional for better experiences.” said Ms. Hien. 

Over this 8-year-journey, the program has received 11,000 applications from all across Viet Nam, out of which 500 volunteers were selected, and attracted more than 20,000 followers on the IUCN’s fanpage. The program would not have succeeded without the support from government. The representatives from Con Dao, Nui Chua, and Hon Cau appreciated the volunteers’ work and hoped that the program continues.

The activity is a part of project “Community-based marine turtle nesting conservation and bycatch reduction in Viet Nam” funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS)

101 Q&A about sea turtles conservation (in Vietnamese). Download the report at LINK

A new born turtle headed to the sea