Viet Nam News
ĐỒNG THÁP — The Forest Protection Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been conducting an investigation into the trafficking of big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) in the Mekong Delta province of Đồng Tháp, Vietnam News Agency reported on Thursday.
According to Lê Đình Thơm, deputy head of the department, the exploitation or commercial use of the species was banned in the country, but it was not listed as a rare species prioritised for protection.
“However, we are collaborating with the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Trade Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Management Authority in Việt Nam to verify the information. Once the status of the big-headed turtle is confirmed, we will draw up solutions,” he said.
On November 4, Kon Tum Province Police found a large number of animals including 26 big-headed turtles weighing 14.6kg on a coach with a Thanh Hoá number plate.
The driver produced a certificate of origin document and a trafficking permit licensed by Đồng Tháp’s Forest Ranger Department.
According to Education for Nature Việt Nam (ENV), an NGO working on wildlife protection, the big-headed turtle is listed on CITES Appendix I of species threatened with extinction and Việt Nam’s IIB group of threatened and rare species which requires permit for all purposes including scientific research, conservation and commercial exploitation of these species.
The country has been a member of CITES since 1994.
Clause 2, Article 1 of Việt Nam’s Decree No 32 on the management of endangered, precious, rare fauna and flora reads that “in case an international convention that Việt Nam is a member has different regulations from regulations stated in this decree then the regulations in the international convention will be applied.”
“Therefore, in this case, the permit is in contravention of the current provisions of law,” said an ENV representative.
Hoàng Văn Hà, co-ordinator of the Asian Turtle Program (ATP), said that it was impossible to commercially farm big-headed turtles.
“This is a specially sensitive species which is hard to breed in captivity condition. ATP has not recorded any cases of successfully farming big-headed turtles in Việt Nam,” he said.
On the other hand, Nguyễn Tấn Thành, head of Đồng Tháp’s Forest Ranger Department, claimed the certification of a licence was legal.
“These animals are not for export purposes, so the department does not need to follow CITES to issue a permit,” said Thành. – VNS