The southernmost province of Ca Mau has become a hub for trafficking rare and endangered animals, according to Nguyen Van Dau, deputy director of U Minh Ha National Park.
CA MAU –
Dau said numerous animal species in the area were close to extinction.
"The province has become a target for hunters and traders of wild animals despite strict enforcement of a ban on hunting," he said.
The animals chiefly trafficked are wild boars, weasels, snakes, turtles, exotic birds and iguanas.
Dau said restaurant owners were willing to pay large sums of money for wild animals.
Local restaurateur Mai Van Dung said it cost between VND800,000 and VND1 million (US$38-$47) to buy one kilo of snake meat, while a mid-sized iguana fetched about VND500,000 ($23).
"Customers are ready to pay large sums for wild animal meat," he said.
At a recent international conference on protecting rare animals in East and Southeast Asia, the General Department of Forestry said it had confiscated at least 8,000 animals in the first ten months of this year alone.
Environmentalists forecast that if the illegal trafficking of wild animals is not stopped, between 13 per cent and 42 per cent of animal and plant species in Southeast Asia will disappear this century. – VNS