Endangered animals seized from Vietnam officials' farms

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An official tranquilizes a gibbon seized from a farm allegedly owned by a former member of the People's Council of Ben Cat District in Binh Duong Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese authorities Wednesday rescued several rare wild animals during raids of two farms allegedly owned by officials in the southern province of Binh Duong, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Thursday. 

Officials from the Ministry of Public Security's environmental department (C49), the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Binh Duong environmental police and forest rangers, together with the Wildlife Conservation Society, all participated in the raids.

They seized six endangered gibbons, including one pileated gibbon, from a farm managed by Nguyen Van Long and Nguyen Thi Diep Hong on Wednesday morning.

A peacock and a stuffed gibbon were also confiscated. The peacock and live gibbons were given tranquilizers and brought to an animal rescue center.

According to Tuoi Tre, Vietnam prohibits the exploitation, use or sale of peacocks and many varieties of gibbon.

 Hoang Minh Duc, deputy director of Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, said the pileated gibbon is only allowed to be imported into the country under the supervision of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). 

Hong has confessed that the animals had been brought to the farm from the adjacent province of Binh Phuoc by a relative of hers for breeding purposes.

She admitted that the authorities had refused to grant her the permission to breed wild animals.

According to Hong, the farm is owned by Long, a former member of the People's Council of Ben Cat District, the local legislature.

The interdisciplinary delegation also raided a farm allegedly owned by Tran Van Loi, Party chief and chairman of the People's Committee of Thu Dau Mot Town the same morning, seizing three peacocks and 18 spotted deer that had been illegally bred there.

Speaking to Tuoi Tre, Loi claimed to only grow rubber trees and fruit and that the farm's co-owner, his brother-in-law Nguyen Van Lap, was the one who has been raising animals there since 2002.

Under Vietnamese law, anyone who illegally hunts, kills, breeds or cages endangered wild animals, as well as those caught participating in the transport or trade of body parts, or products made from them, may be fined from VND50-500 million (US$2,358-23,584).

They may also be sentenced to prison terms of up to seven years.

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