Crackdown on illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam

September 02, 2010

A sweep of restaurants in Vietnam's Lam Dong Province turned up hundreds of pounds of illegal wildlife products, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

More than 100 officers from the Lam Dong Forest Protection Department confiscated over 850 pounds of wildlife including meat, animal parts, and skins during raids conducted last week in Da Lat City and surrounding towns. Animals included pangolin, porcupine, mouse deer, black-shanked duoc langurs, clouded leopard, short-clawed otter, serow, muntjac, leopard cat, and binturong, among others.

"More than a dozen restaurant owners have been arrested and fined so far," said WCS in a statement. "Criminal prosecutions are underway for the wholesaler supplying the restaurants."

300kg of bushmeat seized in Vietnam. Photo Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society.
The campaign came after surveys found 44 restaurants and 33 Traditional Chinese Medicine shops serving wildlife in Da Lat City.

"The detection and prosecution of restaurants illegally serving wildlife is a critical step in the battle for wildlife conservation in Vietnam," said Mr. Tran Thanh Binh, Head of Lam Dong Forest Protection Department, in a statement. "The campaign today is our warning shot to illegal wildlife traders that Lam Dong province will not condone wildlife violators anymore."

"Illegal trade is the largest single threat to wildlife in Asia," added Joe Walston, WCS director for Asia Programs. "Strict enforcement of existing laws, such as what is happening in Lam Dong, is crucial to stemming this crisis, so that wildlife can thrive for future generations."

Vietnam has lost nearly all of its primary forest cover and now relies heavily on wildlife suppliers in neighboring countries, especially Laos. WCS says investigations to determine the origin of the seized wildlife and the trade networks supplying it.

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