Vietnam is an important destination in the Asian region for illegal wildlife products such as pangolin scales and elephant ivory. There have also been seizures of rhino horns, which is believed to have medicinal value.
In February, 14 conservation organisations in Vietnam sent a joint letter urging the government to “identify and close markets and other locations where illegal wildlife is on sale”.
The Southeast Asian country is reported to have many wildlife markets and also a booming online trade in animals, with existing laws often poorly enforced.
Neighbouring China has also pledged to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Scientists suspect the virus passed to humans from animals and some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to a wildlife market in Hubei’s provincial capital Wuhan, where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold.