Trapped and maimed: Vietnamese wildlife rescuers share painful journey of trafficked animals

By Ha Trung   May 12, 2017 | 10:18 am GMT+7

Even after being saved, some pangolins could not survive the critical wounds caused to them.

Many pangolins saved from traffickers often suffer from agonizing wounds and some have to be put down by their rescuers to save them from pain, according to non-profit organization Save Vietnam's Wildlife (SVW).

The group has recent shared stories of injured pangolines after being rescued, including graphic images of their wounds.

Pangolin is the world's most heavily trafficked mammal. Its meat is considered a delicacy while the scales are often used in traditional medicine despite a lack of scientific evidence.

Many trapped and rescued pagolins were more fortunate and successfully cured, but they could no longer return to the wild as they had lost their survival instincts, SVW staff said.

Ho Thi Kim Lan, SVW manager for education and awareness, said in a recent case her team had to put down a pangolin saved from a snare trap in October last year because the vets could not treat its deep wounds.

She pointed out that cases like this are not rare, despite efforts to save the animals.

“These losses have become a driving force for us to strive to stop the trafficking, hunting and consumption of wildlife, the culprits that robbed these animals of their lives,” Lan said.


One of the rescued pangolins that had to be put down because its wounds could not be treated. Photo courtesy of SVW.

Vietnam is home to Javan and Chinese pangolin species, both of which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered, and their populations have fallen rapidly in recent years.

Even though the Southeast Asian country bans the trade of pangolins and any products made from the animal, conservationists said it has been serving as both a market and a transit point for pangolin trafficking networks.

Every year, more than 100,000 pangolins are illegally hunted and trafficked across the world. During this process, most of the animals are injured by traps and suffer lack of food and proper care.

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