Illegal wildlife trade cracked down nationwide (Vietnam)


Vietnam Net

Date Published

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Law enforcement agencies have heeded the call of 14 NGOs working in nature and wildlife conservation and begun cracking down on the illegal wildlife trade at the Thanh Hoa Farmers Market in southern Long An Province. 

Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), one of the NGOs involved, confirmed to Vi?t Nam News that shops displaying live wildlife for sale have been shut down. Notices on wildlife trading violations have also been distributed among the stalls and broadcast at the market recently. 

ENV said it is a positive step by the People’s Committee of Long An. The market has long been a centre for the illegal wildlife trade with wild birds and animals sold disguised as farm produce for years.

However, ENV said its volunteers are still recording incidents of trading wild bird species — many that have been taken from the wild and have been kept illegally as pets for years. 

Director of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Trinh Le Nguyen, representing the 14 NGOs involved, says the group has sent a proposal to the province asking for the illegal wildlife trade to be shut down completely and as soon as possible. 

Nguyen said the province should establish a supervisory team to identify legal certificates of origin among wildlife farms and suppliers to eliminate illegal hunting and/or trading activities.

Enforcement of anti-wildlife trafficking laws, with heavy fines for the transportation and storage of protected species, has improved dramatically in HCM City, Tay Ninh, Lang Son, Lam Dong and Ca Mau. 

A toll-free National Wildlife Crime Hotline 1800 1522 launched in 2005, has seen more than 20,000 illegal wildlife violations reported by communities nationwide, according to ENV.

This includes the seizure of 127 turtles, 16 monkeys, one frozen tiger and one frozen bear, along with 656 ivory products totalling 3.5kg, in May of 2021 alone. 

Many advertisements selling live wild life and meat on Zalo, Facebook, YouTube among other digital forums had been removed, EVN said. 

Some courts have already begun prosecuting illegal wildlife traders in open trials in Ca Mau, Tay Ninh and Lam Dong.

In early 2021, in Ca Mau Province, two men were sentenced to a total of 18-years in prison for illegally transporting 12 endangered sea turtles. Two men, in Tay Ninh, were also given a combined 22-years in prison for transporting 39 of the same sea creatures. 

Prison sentences have also been used in conjunction with financial penalties. 

Two bear farm owners, that transported the limbs of an Asiatic black bear were fined VND700 million (US$30,400) by the people’s court of Da Huoai district in the central highlands of Lam Dong Province. 

The two men cut off two limbs from a dead bear at their farm, but did not report it to local law enforcement agencies.

In June 2021, Lang Son became the 40th locality in Vietnam to eliminate bear farms after three captured bears were transferred to a bear rescue centre in Tam Dao, run by Animals Asia. 

Figures supplied by EVN state that 346 bears have been captured at farms nationwide, of which Hanoi was responsible for 161 (about 46.5 per cent of the country’s total). 

Furthermore, a survey commissioned by EVN and carried out in Nghe An Province found that 97 per cent of surveyed local people in the province wanted more strict and heavier punishments for illegal wildlife violations. 

ENV said 23 per cent of total 800 offenders related to illegal wildlife violations in 2010-20 were from Ha Tinh and Nghe An provinces. 

Earlier, the group of 14 NGOs include WWF-Vietnam, ENV, PanNature, WildAct, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Traffic Vietnam, HSI, GreenViet, Four Paws Vietnam and VietNature had sent a petition to the Prime Minister to stop the trade of wild birds nationwide.