Khanh Hoa eatery raid nets large quantity of wildlife

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Police in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa on Friday busted a wildlife trafficking ring that has operated in the province for many years.


The police and local forest rangers found many wild animals both alive and frozen at the restaurant of Hoang Van Tuan, 38, during a surprise raid launched after more than two months of investigation.


Among the living animals was a black-shanked douc languor (Pygathrix nigripes) weighing about ten kilograms, a species strictly banned from poaching and killing for commercial purposes.


Others included nine weasels weighing 11 kilograms in total, 12 hedgehogs weighing 21 kilograms in total, and about ten kilograms of different kinds of snakes.


The officials also seized 27 kilograms of frozen meat, including that of nine java mouse deer, four hedgehogs and four weasels.


The raid netted more than 50 animals traps and other hunting devices.


Tuan said he bought wild animals from hunters for the past four years, delivering them to other restaurants in Ninh Hoa District and the resort town of Nha Trang.


But Pham Lanh, deputy head of the forest management office of Ninh Hoa District, told press agencies that his unit knows nothing about the operation.


All the seized animals will be examined at the Institute of Tropical Biology to complete documentation for pressing charges against the culprits under the Penal Code, police said.


In early December last year, Khanh Hoa Police had found a monkey and three douc langours kept illegally at a restaurant belonging to Nguyen Thi Hoai.


The local woman was fined VND150 million (US$7,700).


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recently approved a plan to set up a national reserve for black-shanked douc languors at Hon Heo forest in Khanh Hoa.


The discovery of black-shanked douc languor at Hon Heo in late 2005 drew the attention of scientists all over the world.


German national television, with the assistance of the Frankfurt Animal Association, had visited Vietnam to film the animal and showed it on many channels in Europe and the world.


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