The conservation group Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in the northern province of Ninh Binh on Sunday received 22 individuals of an endangered pangolin species rescued by local police.
Police in Ninh Binh earlier arrested three people who were allegedly trafficking the animals from Hue in central Vietnam to consumers in the north.
The pangolins belong to the Manis javanica species, which is native to Southeast Asia, and has been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered.
Most of the pangolins are weak after being held in tight bags for a long time without any proper food. They all have received care from the environmental group but some have not started to eat yet.
“We have been giving them ants but only a third of them could eat,” a representative from the group said, as cited by news website VnExpress.
The source suspected that some of the pangolins had been fed with cornmeal and rock dust to increase their weight and thus fetch better prices, the source said.
Pangolins, also known as anteaters, are facing high threats as its meat is considered a delicacy by some while its scales are used to make boots and shoes. The scales are also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation, despite the lack of adequate scientific evidence.