Forest ranger suspended for allegedly replacing wildlife samples

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The agriculture department in the southern province of Dong Nai has suspended a forest ranger for allegedly replacing exhibits confiscated in a local wildlife restaurant raid, Tuoi Tre reported Thursday.

According to the newspaper, Hoang Van Dien is accused of replacing the meat of rare langurs confiscated from the 9999 Restaurant in Vinh Cuu District on November 4 with monkey meat.

Dong Nai's forest ranger agency said that on November 8, Dien brought the meat sample with that of cobra to the Institute of Tropical Biology for tests.

Both the samples were suspected of belonging to douc langurs and king cobras (Ophiophagus Hannah), which are categorized as 1B under Vietnam's Red List, meaning that anyone who trades them faces criminal charges, Tuoi Tre reported.

The institute initially concluded that the samples belonged to monkeys and Oriental Ratsnake (Ptyas mucosus), which is restricted from hunting and commercial use under Vietnam's laws.

It asked the agency to provide it with the monkey samples' photos taken during the raid to identify their species, according to the newspaper.

On November 11, Dien submitted three photos with the writing of the restaurant's owner Hoang Minh Dung stating that they were taken at his restaurant on November 4.

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The photos showed different samples that was believed to belong to black-shanked douc (Pygathrix nigripes), Tuoi Tre quoted the biological institute as saying.

The case is being investigated.

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