Police raid finds rare pangolins, king cobras packed for restaurant delivery in Vietnam

By Staff reporters   October 26, 2017 | 07:30 pm PT
Police raid finds rare pangolins, king cobras packed for restaurant delivery in Vietnam
A police photo shows pangolins rescued from a house in Binh Phuoc Province on Thursday.
The owner said he was going to sell them to Vietnamese consumers up north.

A police raid on Thursday at a farmhouse in southern Vietnam uncovered cages and bags of pangolins and other rare animals apparently waiting to be shipped to restaurants.

Environment police busted the house in Loc Ninh District in Binh Phuoc Province, around three hours north of Saigon, at around 5 p.m. and found scores of wild animals being kept illegally.

Among them were 23 pangolins, 100 long-tailed macaques, 27 king cobras and dozens of Asian water monitors. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the king cobra as a vulnerable species and the pangolin as threatened by extinction.

The pangolin, a defenseless anteater, is a major victim of wildlife trafficking as some people consider their meat a delicacy while its scales are used to make boots and shoes. Many also believe that the scales can be used as an effective treat for conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation in traditional Chinese medicine, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Conservationists say that Vietnam is both a market and a transit point for pangolin trafficking networks.

Most of the animals were kept in bags, possibly ready for transport, while others were in small cages, media reports said.

The owner of the farm, Le Quang Hanh, was issued a license to raise and trade reptiles of legal origins in  2009, but he failed to produce any documents for the animals the police found during the inspection.

He said he'd bought them from different sources and was planning to sell them to consumers in northern Vietnam.

Police are investigating further. No arrests have been made.

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