Poaching and trafficking are driving many wildlife species in Vietnam to extinction, a Wildlife Conservation Society study has warned.
Over the last ten years, Vietnam has become an important chain in the international wildlife trafficking ring, said Scott Roberton, director of the WCS office in Vietnam.
Vietnam exported around 15,000 monkeys and 150,000 pythons between 1996-2006, and more than 60,000 imported hard-shell tortoises to China between 2004-2006.
In 2008, Vietnam authorities seized 20 tons of pangolin, commonly called anteaters, then being smuggled from Indonesia to China. They caught more than six tons of elephant's tusks from Africa in 2009.
Most traffickers capture and/or kill the animals from forests in Vietnam and other Asian countries to meet domestic and international demand, the report said.
Estimates by Interpol show that Vietnam consumes around 3,700-4,500 tons of wildlife every year for food, medicine, decoration and export This figure does not include tens of thousands of small birds and insects that is difficult to weigh.
Vietnam police every year cooperate with foreign counterparts via Interpol to deal with the wildlife trafficking activities in Vietnam, trying to intercept animals that are brought into the country to be taken to a third country. Most of the cases uncovered were at Vietnam's border with China, Laos and Cambodia.
WCS has warned that the illegal trade and hunting of wild animals can affect people's health as the animals are not tested before consumption.
Scientists have found the SARS virus on all the bats, pandas, snakes, civets and weasels at restaurants serving wild animal dishes in southern China, Roberton said in his report.