Meat lovers put wildlife at risk

The widespread consumption of wild meat, coupled with illegal animal trafficking, is putting endangered species at risk.
The widespread consumption of wild meat, coupled with illegal animal trafficking, is putting endangered species at risk.

While it is common to see wildlife for sale throughout the city's neighbouring areas, relevant authorities still have to attempt any major crack down on the illegal industry.

Near the Rach Chiec Bridge , District 2, around 20 stalls sell wild birds which are readily slaughtered and cooked for a customer or restaurant's pleasure.

Prices vary from 110,000 VND per kg to 300,000 VND per kg (5.2 USD-14 USD) depending on the specific species of bird.

Most wild birds are caught in southwestern provinces such as Tien Giang and Long An, according to traders.

Asked if there were enough wild birds to satisfy demand, one trader replied that he could supply as many birds as a customer could ask for.

"All you need to do is phone me and place your order in advance. Processing usually takes one day," the trader said.

Apart from wild birds, everything from snakes, turtles to bamboo rats are sold publicly.

A recent Wildlife At Risk (WAR) survey found that nearly 50 percent of people questioned in HCM City ate wild meat, some even used it as traditional medicine, home decorations and adornments.

The survey also revealed that many people preferred wild meat served at restaurants and that those aged between 36 and 45 years old, Government officials as well as highly educated people tended to eat more wild meat in comparison with anyone else.

Some of the most popular wildlife dishes among city diners include snake, wild pig, deer, wild chicken, bear, musk-cat and varans.

A WAR manager, Do Thi Thanh Huyen, said that all interventions aimed at preventing the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife needed to be focused on consumers as supply only rose on the back of high demand.

WAR confirmed that some of the species no longer found in Vietnam included raphis pallms, two-horned rhinos and grey bulls.

The organisation warned that as many as 93 species of animals, 78 species of birds, 52 species of reptiles, 51 species of sea fish, 38 species of fresh water fish and 105 species of spineless animals were currently facing extinction.

HCM City 's Market Watch Department acknowledged that it was difficult to punish illegal traders who usually disappeared into thin air at the first signs of trouble.

Head of Inspection and Legislation at the HCM City Forest Protection Department Nguyen Huu Hung said that the quantity of live wildlife seized by authorities remained far too low compared to the quantity of wildlife sold in the city.

Explaining the problem, deputy head of the Vietnam National Forest Protection Department Do Trong Kim said that wildlife trafficking had become increasingly sophisticated with traffickers storing wild animal stock in secret locations.

The small number of forest rangers and the rampant hunting of wild animals had definitely made the matter worse, he furthered.

A senior official at the Sai Gon Zoological and Botanical Garden said that it recently rescued a number of injured wild animals, most of them illegally hunted down and traded before reaching the zoo.

HCM City Forest Protection Department uncovered 546 wildlife violations last year, 13 cases of which received punishment for illegally confining wild animals.

Kim said that local city and provincial authorities should take initiative in cracking down on wildlife trafficking instead of solely relying on the State and other resources./.

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