Court upholds Vietnamese poacher's jail term for killing endangered 'costumed apes'

By Ngoc Truong   May 16, 2017 | 12:22 am PT
The poachers sneaked into a nature reserve in 2015 with over 100 traps baited to catch wild animals.

A Vietnamese man lost his appeal to overturn a three-year prison sentence on Monday handed down for hunting endangered animals in the central city of Da Nang.

Nguyen Van Ly was found guilty of poaching animals in 2015, including the endangered red-shanked douc langur, which is the official mascot of the city.

An appellate court upheld Ly's conviction of violating wildlife regulations in the Son Tra Nature Reserve.


Nguyen Van Ly faces the appeal court. Photo by VnExpress/N.T.

The court heard that in March 2015, Ly, his wife Le Thi Lan, his father Nguyen Van Hoi, and accomplices Vi Van Hoang and Vi Van Son, all from the central province of Nghe An 430 kilometers (270 miles) north of Da Nang, sneaked into the reserve and set traps to catch wild animals for sale. 

They caught a ferret, a deer, a squirrel and two red-shanked doucs, with the last two listed as endangered in Vietnam's Red Book. 

The five were later arrested and local authorities seized 3.11 kilograms (7 pounds) of dried red-shanked douc meat, bone, skin and organs as well as 100 traps.

In July 2016, a court in Son Tra District sentenced Son to three years in jail and Hoang to two and a half years for violating wildlife regulations.

The same court found Ly guilty in March 2017 and handed him a three-year term, while Hoi was sentenced to two years in prison and Lan received a two-year suspended sentence.


Red-shanked douc langurs on the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

The red-shanked douc is sometimes called the “costumed ape” or the “Queen of primates” for being one of the most colorful of all primates: maroon-red from its knees to its ankles, white forearms, black hands and feet, a golden face with a white ruff, blue eyelids and a white tail. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the species as endangered. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) also prohibits its international trade. Vietnam, a CITES signatory, also has laws to protect the primate but enforcement is sometimes lacking.

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