Vietnam frees 93 pangolins saved from traffickers

By VnExpress   May 8, 2017 | 10:54 am GMT+7
Vietnam frees 93 pangolins saved from traffickers
A pangolin finds its way back to the wild after staying for a month at a rescue center in northern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Save Vietnam's Wildlife

The country has been serving as both a market of the helpless anteaters and a transit point for trafficking networks.

A wildlife rescue center in northern Vietnam, in its biggest pangolin release, has sent 93 of the anteaters back to the wild after rescuing them from traffickers in early last month, officials said.

The pangolins were released in two groups on April 28 and May 6, according to a statement from Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, a national conservation group that operates a carnivore and pangolin reserve in Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh Province, 90 kilometers (50 miles) south of Hanoi.

The pangolin release is the biggest ever made in Vietnam, as the animals were picked from the 118 rescued from traffickers in early April in the northern province of Hoa Binh. Police had to shoot out two tires of the traffickers' car to stop it.

The group has selected the strongest pangolins to release while the rest will need more nursing time.

Vietnam is home to Javan and Chinese pangolin species, both of which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered, and their populations have fallen rapidly in recent years.

The defenseless anteaters are the biggest victim of wildlife trafficking as their meat is considered a delicacy by some while their scales are used to make boots and shoes. Many also believe that the scales can be used as an effective treat for conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation in traditional Chinese medicine, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Conservationists said Vietnam has been serving as both a market and a transit point for pangolin trafficking networks.

Nguyen Van Thai, director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, said in the statement that the reserve has received more than 400 pangolins saved from traffickers in Vietnam in the past eight months, and 304 of them have been sent back to the wild.

The number of pangolins brought to the center has been increasing of late, it said. Some of them were pregnant or infant.