As wildlife-related crimes are able to generate profits almost equal to those from the trafficking of drugs, firearms, and human beings, they are quickly becoming increasingly more of a threat to Vietnam, according to an official from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Vietnam.
Vietnam has been viewed as an important link in the chain of transnational illegal wildlife trade, said WCS Country Programme Director Hoang Bich Thuy.
According to a report on wildlife violations and law enforcement in Vietnam from 2013-2017 conducted by the WCS and the Department of Criminal Justice Statistics and Information Technology at the Supreme People’s Procuracy, Vietnam recorded more than 1,500 wildlife crimes, seizing over 41,300kg of wildlife specimens and products, from January 2013 to December 2017.
Some 1,460 people have reportedly violated regulations on wildlife protection, 432 of who were brought to trial with criminal charges. The country has collected 16 billion VND (692,340 USD) in fines from these violations, according to the report.
Most recently, nearly 10 tonnes of smuggled ivory and pangolin scales originating from Nigeria were discovered in a plastic waste container at Tien Sa Port in the central city of Da Nang in October. It was one of the country’s largest wildlife trafficking cases for some time.
Earlier this month, about 800kg of pangolin scales were founded in three containers imported from Africa at Hai Phong Port in the northern city of Hai Phong. The case is under further investigation.
Although the Government has taken various measures to combat wildlife trafficking, the crime remains widespread in Vietnam as many people still believe consuming wildlife products, such as rhino horns or pangolin scales, is good for their health.
An official from the Department of Forest Protection said that we must develop a comprehensive action plan to strengthen law enforcement against illegal wildlife trading based on organised statistics and analysis on the crime.
It is also vital to have a governmental body in charge of collecting data on wildlife trafficking to provide support for related authorities, he added.
The WCS has worked in Vietnam since 2006 with a focus on combating illegal wildlife trafficking. The organisation works to degrade, disrupt, and dismantle wildlife trafficking networks and reduce poaching pressure on wildlife populations. –VNA