|Forest rangers in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong inspect dead animals that had been illegally traded in local restaurants and food stalls. Viet Nam is looking to the internet for effective solutions to prevent wild animal trafficking. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Dung
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam is looking to the internet for effective solutions to prevent wild animal trafficking.
According to a survey recently released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), up to 108 wild animal species are found to be trafficked illegally over 33 Vietnamese websites.
At a conference held in Ha Noi last Wednesday, Deputy Director of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Viet Nam's Management Authority Do Quang Tung, said that the survey, which was first conducted in Viet Nam, was thought to help CITES Viet Nam outline effective ways to curb the situation in the country.
WCS Country Director of Viet Nam Scott Roberton said that reptiles such as snakes, iguanas and crocodiles have been found to be available for sale on the following websites yeuthucung.com, arowana.com.vn, 5giay.com and rongbay.com. He also mentioned that monkeys, elephants, squirrels and even tigers were being sold on these websites.
The survey states that 24 per cent of wild animals are protected by Viet Nam law, while a different 24 per cent are banned from trading by CITES and 17.6 per cent are listed under the global ‘endangered species' list.
The survey also discovered that about 84 per cent of wildlife species were trafficked to be sold as pets, 9 per cent for food and 1 per cent for traditional medicine processing.
Tung from the Viet Nam division of CITES said that as a global organisation, CITES actually started to prevent wildlife trafficking via the internet since 2004.
"However, Viet Nam is yet to conduct a nation-wide assessment of wild animal trafficking that happens over internet," Tung said. "This is despite the fact that wild animal trafficking via the internet is believed to have been happening in Viet Nam for a whole decade."
Hoang Xuan Trinh, head of the Forest Management Department's Inspectorate Legal Department said that poor management was blamed for the shortcomings in dealing with wild animal trafficking via the internet in Viet Nam.
"It's better to fine people right after they post advertisements on the internet to sell wild animals," he said. "We should not wait until transactions of trafficked wild animals are finished to hand the perpetrator a fine."
Le Duc Anh, from the Ministry of Industry and Trade's E-commerce Department, said that it was hard to verify the finer details of advertisements for trafficked wild animals.
"For example, looking only at the images posted on websites, verifying whether they were wild or domesticated animals is very difficult," he said. "If they were domesticated animals instead of wild animals, we could not fine."
Anh further suggested that the authorised agencies should raise the amount of the fines in a bid to bring the situation under control.
According to Anh, people who posted advertisements of wild animal trafficking via the internet now only pay a maximum fine of VND2 million (US$98).
"It is not enough to deter violations," he said.
Nguyen Van Trinh, from northern Thai Binh Province, owner of website nhunghuou.net, which legally provides deer antlers and ba ba (softshell turtle) to the market, said that breeders need clear regulations about which wild animals are permitted to be raised and sold, thus helping breeders avoid misunderstanding between which types of wild animals are allowed to be raised or not.
In response to the question, Tung said that breeders should read Government decrees to know more about the regulations.
The Government Decree No 82 issued in 2006 clearly regulated which types of wild animal were allowed to be raised.
A car carrying 53 king cobras was seized yesterday by Hoang Mai District police and environmental and traffic police.
The cobras weigh 164 kg and are believed to be worth about VND300 million (US$15,000). The authorities transferred them to Soc Son Rescue Centre.
Also on Friday, 56 cobras weighing about 1600 kilograms were seized by Ha Noi traffic police on Phap Van Highway. The car driver, Nguyen Van Hai from Vinh Phuc Province, said he was hired to transport the cobras to Vinh Phuc for VND1million.
Viet Nam prohibits any trading of cobras for commercial purposes. — VNS