|The pangolins and turtles found on board. — Photo baohatinh.vn|Viet Nam News
HÀ TĨNH — Environment police in central Hà Tĩnh Province discovered the illegal transport of 37 rare, wild animals from Laos to neighboring Nghệ An Province during the weekend.
The animals – 26 turtles, four soft-shell turtles and seven pangolins – were found in a passenger bus registered in Nghệ An. Police said they had been secretly observing the bus for almost half a month before stopping it for checks on Saturday when it was travelling across the province.
One pangolin died during transport.
Ngô Văn Quang, the bus driver, told the police that the animals were purchased in Pakse Province in Laos to be sold in Nghệ An for meat.
Pangolins and turtles are listed as critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to the high demand for its meat. Soft-shell turtles are listed as a vulnerable species.
Vietnamese laws prohibit the hunting, killing, trading, storage and transport of wild animals. But loose law enforcement has resulted in blatant violations across the country.
Wild animals’ meat is often consumed with drinks by the rich Vietnamese to show off their wealth as well as because of the rumoured benefits to male health. Many restaurants serve cooked wild animals secretly to avoid being caught. — VNS