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Local agencies respond differently to wildlife trafficking cases

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In early November, the Kon Tum provincial police discovered a large amount of wildlife carried on a bus that went through the province. The wildlife seized included crocodiles and turtles of different species.

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The police discover a wildlife trafficking case


Of the turtles, there were 26 big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum), a species of turtle which is rare and endangered, listed in Appendix 1 of CITES Convention.

The bus driver showed documents to prove the legal origin of the wildlife. The documents said the turtles were from a turtle farm owned by Tran Chi Dai in Tam Nong district in Donh Thap province.

At the moment when the driver was arrested, he showed a license to transport 6 kilograms of turtles dated October 30, 2018. One hour after the arrest, the driver showed a license to transport another five kilograms.

The certificates were granted by Tam Nong district’s Foreign Rangers Unit.

ENV (Education of Nature – Vietnam) then consulted with four CITES (United Nations' Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) scientific units, the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the Vietnam Forest Science Institute under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Research Institute for Marine Fisheries under MARD and the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies under Hanoi National University. 

These agencies all said that they had never certified in written documents the breeding of big-headed turtles for reproduction and growth purposes.

The farms that breed wildlife for reproduction purposes must obtain a certificate from CITES Vietnam to allow animals to reproduce for many generations in a controlled environment.

For farms that grow wildlife, the owners of the farms must show that the growth of the species does not affect the conservation of that species in the wild.

Thus, the forest ranger unit that licensed Tran Chi Dai to breed, grow and carry big-headed turtles acted against current laws.

“Like pangolin, the breeding of the turtles for commercial purposes is impossible. So why are the vehicles carrying turtles with certified ‘legal origin’ still going to Mong Cai and Quang Ninh?” EVN’s deputy director Bui Thi Ha said.

In reply to the criticism, Nguyen Tan Thanh, head of the Dong Thap provincial Forest Rangers Unit, argued that CITES regulations only cover international trade and do not apply to exchange activities in Vietnam. 

The problem is that even the state management agency does not understand that Vietnam has been a member of CITES Convention since 1994, and has to observe international conservation rules.



Source: VietNamNet

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