Conservationists cringe at wildlife farming in Vietnam

By Bui Hong Nhung   August 3, 2016 | 02:35 am PT
Conservationists cringe at wildlife farming in Vietnam
Dead pangolins are frozen in a farm of Soc Son District, Hanoi. Photo by Vietnam News Agency.
Say it is fueling consumption rather than protecting endangered species. 

Wildlife farming is a controversial practice and a large number of Vietnamese experts think that it should be banned, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

Wildlife trafficking has been rising in Vietnam over the past few years, and many think the country should introduce a legal framework to protect vulnerable animals while still gaining financially from the trade.

Many experts and conservationists, however, claim that wildlife farming hampers protection campaigns and makes it difficult for officials to handle violations.

Bui Thi Ha, the deputy director of Education for Nature-Vietnam (one of the country’s few locally-based conservation groups), said that efforts to protect can’t run in parallel with farming activities because the former is for the benefit of all of society while the latter focuses purely on profits.

“It’s extremely risky to put the future of many species in the hands of a group of people,” Ha was quoted by Vietnam News Agency as saying. “Most animals lose their survival instincts after a long period of captivity,” Ha said.

She also mentioned numerous loopholes in the management of wildlife farming.

Ha cited a case when authorities in the southern province of Tay Ninh allowed a local farm to raise pangolins despite the fact that these animals are unable to grow and reproduce in a captive environment.

The central province of Nghe An also granted a license to raise endangered species to a woman whose husband had been charged with smuggling tigers twice before.

A survey conducted by Education for Nature-Vietnam from 2014 to 2015 revealed that the illegal wildlife trade is becoming more common on farms that have been granted official licenses by authorities.

All 26 farms involved in the survey were linked to animal trafficking, but only half admitted their violations. All of those questioned said that they had bought endangered animals before without legal papers.

According to many conservationists, a legal framework for wildlife farming could lead to a surge in animal products on the market.

Khong Trung, the director of the Department of Forest Protection in the central province of Quang Tri, said that at present, it’s impossible for them to trace the origins of these products.

“We can’t distinguish between bear bile taken from farmed bears and from their wild peers. The only way to protect wildlife is to ban the trade so that wildlife officers can fulfill their duties.”

Vu Thi Quyen, the director of Education for Nature-Vietnam, echoed the above idea, adding that: “Vietnam has to stop thinking about financial benefits if it wants to protect its wildlife.”

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