A woman offers a wild bird for sale at Thạnh Hóa Farmers Market in Long An Province. The southern province has been cracking down on the illegal trade of wild life at the market. Photo courtesy of PanNature
LONG AN — Law enforcement agencies have heeded the call of 14 NGOs working in nature and wildlife conservation and begun cracking down on the illegal wildlife trade at the Thạnh Hóa Farmers Market in southern Long An province.
Education for Nature Việt Nam (ENV), one of the NGOs involved, confirmed to Việt Nam News that shops displaying live wildlife for sale have been shut down. Notices on wildlife trading violations have also been distributed among the stalls and broadcast at the market recently.
ENV said it is a positive step by the People’s Committee of Long An. The market has long been a centre for the illegal wildlife trade with wild birds and animals sold disguised as farm produce for years.
However, ENV said its volunteers are still recording incidents of trading wild bird species -- many that have been taken from the wild and have been kept illegally as pets for years.
Director of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Trịnh Lê Nguyên, representing the 14 NGOs involved, says the group has sent a proposal to the province asking for the illegal wildlife trade to be shut down completely and as soon as possible.
Nguyên said the province should establish a supervisory team to identify legal certificates of origin among wildlife farms and suppliers to eliminate illegal hunting and/or trading activities.
Enforcement of anti-wildlife trafficking laws, with heavy fines for the transportation and storage of protected species, has improved dramatically in HCM City, Tây Ninh, Lạng Sơn, Lâm Đồng and Cà Mau.
A toll-free National Wildlife Crime Hotline 1800 1522 launched in 2005, has seen more than 20,000 illegal wildlife violations reported by communities nationwide, according to ENV.
This includes the seizure of 127 turtles, 16 monkeys, one frozen tiger and one frozen bear, along with 656 ivory products totalling 3.5kg, in May of 2021 alone.
Many advertisements selling live wild life and meat on Zalo, Facebook, YouTube among other digital forums had been removed, EVN said.
Some courts have already begun prosecuting illegal wildlife traders in open trials in Cà Mau, Tây Ninh and Lâm Đồng.
In early 2021, in Cà Mau Province, two men were sentenced to a total of 18-years in prison for illegally transporting 12 endangered sea turtles. Two men, in Tây Ninh, were also given a combined 22-years in prison for transporting 39 of the same sea creatures.
A sea turtle is rescued by law enforcement agencies in Hà Tĩnh province. A report unveiled that 23 per cent of 800 wild life trade offenders nationwide, from 2010-2020 were from Hà Tĩnh and Nghệ An provinces. Photo courtesy of ENV
Prison sentences have also been used in conjunction with financial penalties.
Two bear farm owners, that transported the limbs of an Asiatic black bear were fined VNĐ700 million (US$30,400) by the people’s court of Đạ Huoai district in the central highlands of Lâm Đồng Province.
The two men cut off two limbs from a dead bear at their farm, but did not report it to local law enforcement agencies.
In June 2021, Lạng Sơn became the 40th locality in Việt Nam to eliminate bear farms after three captured bears were transferred to a bear rescue centre in Tam Đảo, run by Animals Asia.
Figures supplied by EVN state that 346 bears have been captured at farms nationwide, of which Hà Nội was responsible for 161 (about 46.5 per cent of the country’s total).
Furthermore, a survey commissioned by EVN and carried out in Nghệ An Province found that 97 per cent of surveyed local people in the province wanted more strict and heavier punishments for illegal wildlife violations.
Two limbs of an Asiatic black bear are seized from an illegal transporting case in Lâm Đồng Province. Two men was sentenced a cash fine of VNĐ700 million (US$30,400) for transporting the two limbs for sale. Photo courtesy of ENV
ENV said 23 per cent of total 800 offenders related to illegal wildlife violations in 2010-20 were from Hà Tĩnh and Nghệ An provinces.
Earlier, the group of 14 NGOs include WWF-Việt Nam, ENV, PanNature, WildAct, Save Việt Nam's Wildlife, Traffic Việt Nam, HSI, GreenViet, Four Paws Việt Nam and VietNature had sent a petition to the Prime Minister to stop the trade of wild birds nationwide. — VNS