3 pangolins die from hellish trafficking journey in Vietnam; 58 others rescued

By Pham Huong   October 6, 2016 | 07:33 pm PT
3 pangolins die from hellish trafficking journey in Vietnam; 58 others rescued
A pangolin rescued from smugglers and brought to a reserve in northern Vietnam. Photo by Save Vietnam's Wildlife
A conservation group will take care of them and expects to return them to the wild soon.

Police in northern Vietnam rescued 61 endangered pangolins from smugglers this week but three have died from the excruciating journey.

Officers in Thai Binh Province, 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Hanoi, said they seized the pangolins with 37 turtles in tight boxes from a truck at around 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

The animals were then brought to the national conservation group Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, which operates a carnivore and pangolin reserve in Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh Province, 90 kilometers (50 miles) south of Hanoi.

A vet from the organization confirmed three of the pangolins have died and another is very weak as they were put too close to an ice box on the truck. The rest of them are fine, he said.

The unit will check their health and return them to the wild when they have fully recovered, hopefully without any red tape issue.

Wild animals rescued from smugglers are subject to a controversial rule that requires them to be kept as crime evidence for quite a long time, before they can eventually be released back to nature.

The rule has received a lot of criticism from conservationists, especially after many pangolins have died waiting for legal procedures.

Tran Quang Phuong, a manager at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, said the chance of the animal surviving in confined spaces is low.

At least 30 pangolins received by the organization died last year due to a lengthy paperwork process. At another rescue center in Hanoi, 300 pangolins have also died in similar circumstances, including 80 this year.

Vietnam bans the trade of pangolins and any products made from the animal.

Their smuggling remains rampant as the animal’s meat is considered a delicacy by some while its scales are used to make boots and shoes and to treat conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation in traditional Chinese medicine. Such practices have not been backed by adequate scientific evidence.

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