The Evolved Man of the Week: Thai Van Nguyen

Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s “Evolved Man of the Week” profile. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved person, famous and non-famous individual alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to a life-long pangolin conservationist and founder of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, one of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize recipients, Thai Van Nguyen.

39-year-old Nguyen grew up near Cuc Phuong National Park and, as a child, witnessed a mother and baby pangolin being caught and killed by neighbors in his village. Nguyen resolved to make pangolin conservation his life’s work.

To reverse the fate of the pangolins, Nguyen set out to stop poaching and educate the Vietnamese public on the importance of pangolin conservation. His efforts began with a sophisticated outreach and education campaign: he wrote husbandry manuals for rescued pangolins, published research in peer-reviewed journals, attended international workshops, and developed Vietnam’s first reintroduction and tracking protocols for pangolins.

Nguyen also opened the Carnivore and Pangolin Education Center, the first of its kind in Vietnam, to provide wildlife conservation courses to students and the general public. And he educated customs officials, border guards, and rangers on wildlife laws and how to properly care for seized pangolins. Here is Nguyen in his own words: 

“Education plays a key role in convincing people of the inherent worth of the pangolin: it is unique as the earth’s only scale-covered mammal and an important regulator of insects and provider of burrow shelters to host other species. Education also empowers people to make informed choices: pangolin scales are not magical medicines.

Today we honor Thai Van Nguyen as our Evolved Man of the Week. 

Malayan Pangolin (Manis javanica) conservationist, Thai Van Nguyen, showing rescued three month old baby to young boy, Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program, Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam, digitally removed object in background

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