New home for wallabies trafficked into Vietnam

By AFP   November 17, 2023 | 04:04 pm PT
Four wallabies trafficked into Vietnam were on their way to a new home in a mountainous northern province on Friday, as wildlife experts called for tighter regulation of the exotic pet trade.

The animals -- which are not native to Vietnam -- were spotted hopping along in Cao Bang Province, which borders China, earlier this week.

According to VnExpress, the wallabies -- which include three males and one female -- were brought from Australia by traffickers.

They were most likely on their way to China, which has a huge exotic pet trade, wildlife trafficking experts said.

It is unclear whether they were released or escaped.

Wallabies trafficked into Vietnam at a rescue center in the northern Lao Cai Province. Photo by AFP

Wallabies trafficked into Vietnam at a rescue center in the northern Lao Cai Province. Photo by AFP

On Friday, the marsupials -- all of which are healthy and weigh between eight and nine kilograms -- were traveling to their new home, the Hoang Lien Rescue and Conservation Center in Lao Cai Province.

"After arriving at the center, the wallabies will be raised in a semi-wild environment, with both indoor and outdoor areas," La Van Toi, director of the center, told AFP.

"We have veterinarians that will look after their health, and they will be fed with grass, vegetables and fruit."

It is the second time this year that wallabies have been discovered in Cao Bang, according to Doug Hendrie, counter-trafficking director at the ENV Wildlife Conservation Trust.

In February, four wallabies, one of which was dead, were seized alongside other exotic species, he said.

"Both of these cases probably involved the trafficking of these exotic species to China. They do make reasonably good pets, they can be tamed," he told AFP.

However, he was skeptical the animals were sourced from Australia's wilds, speculating instead that they came from elsewhere in Asia, where they may have been bred in captivity.

Vietnam too has a growing exotic pet trade, much of which is organized through social media.

ENV says animals are being pulled from nature to meet the demand for "cute" pets, despite the species being undomesticated, unfit for captivity and their wild populations detrimentally affected and even threatened with extinction.

"There needs to be tightening of regulations concerning keeping these animals as pets," Hendrie said.

ENV, a Vietnam-based organization, says it receives reports from members of the public seeing macaques, turtles, otters, birds and other species at residences, business establishments, and online.

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