Endangered pangolins rescued from illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam

By Hai Chi   December 30, 2022 | 04:01 pm PT
Seven pangolins, including two critically endangered yellow pangolins, have been rescued while being smuggled from Ho Chi Minh City to northern Vietnam.

Police in central Thanh Hoa Province on Wednesday detected suspicious signs on a truck traveling from HCMC to Thai Nguyen Province and so stopped it for inspection.

The police found a styrofoam box on the truck. When the driver failed to tell them what was inside the box, they opened it and found a bag weighing 15kg.

The police found seven pangolins in smaller bags. Two of them were yellow pangolin, or Chinese pangolin, which have been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2014. The rest were Javan pangolin, which are also endangered.

The driver told the police he had been hired by a man to carry the package from the south to the north for VND300,000 ($12.72).

Police on Thursday handed the pangolins over to the non-profit Save Vietnam's Wildlife (SVW).

SVW took them to Cuc Phuong National Park in northern Ninh Binh Province.

One of the two yellow pangolins that is rescued on December 28, 2022. Photo by Save Vietnams Wildlife

One of the two yellow pangolinsrescued on December 28, 2022. Photo by Save Vietnam's Wildlife

Tran Van Cuong, a staff member at SVW, said all seven pangolins were weak and needed to be taken care of as they had injuries resulting from being hunted and illegally transported.

After they are well enough, the five Javan pangolins will be released back into the wild in Cuc Phuong Park, while the two Chinese pangolins will be kept in captivity for reproduction.

Pangolins 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 in Chinese traditional medicine as an effective treatment for conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Pangolins are primarily hunted in Vietnam and in neighboring countries.

Over 96,000 kilograms (210,000 pounds) of scales were seized in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam between 2017 and 2019, according to TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring program.

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