Seventy pangolins listed as rare precious endangered species which need strict protection have been seized by the investigation agency as exhibits of a trafficking case. More than 40 have died because of bad living conditions as reported by local newspapers.
Tran Quang Phuong from the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program, a cooperation program between the Cuc Phuong National Park and the Wildlife Conservation & Research Center, on January 26 said 20 have recovered and are ready to go back to the wild.
However, of the 20, only 16 can be freed after appropriate agencies release the decisions to free them. The others are still awaiting a similar decision to be able to return to the nature.
According to Phuong, about 60 Javan pangolins have been released since the beginning of 2015.
The majority of Javan pangolins released since 2014 were exhibits in wildlife trafficking cases. They were handed over by the Hoa Binh and Ninh Binh provincial forest rangers’ units to the center which rehabilitated the animals’ health before setting them free.
Prior to that, in August 2015, the conservation programs rescued 60 pangolin individuals from trafficking. If counting on the pangolins being taken care, the center now has 70 pangolin individuals which can satisfy the health requirements to be released to the wild.
However, the release of the animals has not been approved by appropriate agencies.
Three months ago, the program sent a dispatch to the Thanh Hoa and Ninh Binh provincial Police and Forest Rangers’ Units, asking for their permission to release the pangolins to the wild.
However, the agencies rejected the proposal, citing the 2003 Criminal Law as saying that the animals cannot be set free until the trafficking cases are settled.
Nguyen Van Thai, director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife Program, noted that Vietnam has laid down policies on protecting endangered animals, but many problems still exist, especially in dealing with wild animals which are exhibits in trafficking cases.
The 2003 Criminal Law stipulates that the treatment with exhibits must be determined by the investigation agency, people’s procuracy or the judgment council.
This means that wild animals, after being seized, will serve as exhibits, while appropriate agencies will only make the next decision after the cases are settled.
Meanwhile, according to Thai, in many cases, the investigation and judgment process has lasted many months. As a result, the exhibits died at the exhibit protection agencies or rescue centers.
“The animals find it hard to exist in the artificial environment, in captivity and they need natural food,” he explained.