24 pangolins set free from wildlife traffickers in Viet Nam

Published: November 24, 2015

A Vietnamese wildlife conservation program has coordinated with an international fund to release 24 pangolins, an endangered wildlife species, back to their natural habitat in central Viet Nam, as the animals have recovered after a period of rehabilitation.

A pangolin is seen when it, along with 23 others, was released to nature in a forest in central Vietnam on November 22, 2015. Tuoi Tre
A pangolin is seen when it, along with 23 others, was released to nature in a forest in central Viet Nam on November 22, 2015. Tuoi Tre

These pangolins were among many wild animals rescued from traffickers and given care at the Cuc Phuong Phuong National Park in the northern province of Ninh Binh.

The release was carried out at 9:00 pm on Sunday in four locations in a forest in central Viet Nam, under the coordination of the Carnivore & Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The CPCP is a cooperative program between the park and Save Viet Nam’s Wildlife, a national non-profit organization, committed to protecting and increasing populations of threatened wildlife in the Southeast Asian country.

As pangolins are more active at night than during the day, the release was organized in the evening across four sites at least 300 meters apart.

Of the 24 pangolins, 11 had been handed over to the park by the forest protection sub-departments of Hoa Binh and Ninh Binh Provinces in northern Viet Nam, said Nguyen Van Thai, director of Save Viet Nam’s Wildlife.

These 11 pangolins had been kept in reticule bags and were fed improper food leaving them very weak, Thai said.

Pangolins are facing extinction, so releasing these endangered animals back into their natural habitat will help increase their population, Thai said, adding that Save Viet Nam’s Wildlife set free 35 other pangolins in June this year.

In order to protect the released animals from being harmed or recaptured by poachers, relevant forest protection forces need to strengthen patrols to detect and arrest any violators, Thai added.   

Tran Quang Phuong, who manages the CPCP, said dozens of pangolins seized in wildlife trafficking cases by competent agencies in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa are also being cared under the program, waiting for release.

Pursuant to current regulations, such animals are exhibits in criminal cases and can be released only when the cases have been tried by courts and when a decision on handling them has been issued, Phuong explained.

On November 10, Phuong said that more than 30 pangolins had died at the Cuc Phuong National Park after living in captivity for months instead of being released to their natural habitat, the result of legal inflexibility.

The dead anteaters were among more than 70 pangolins rescued from illegal wildlife traders and brought to the reserve three months ago, Phuong said.

(Source: Tuoi Tre News)