Police in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong are investigating a case in which 17 people were suspected of killing an endangered gaur in a national park.
According to Cat Tien District's authorities, police have so far identified nine of the suspects who all came from Phuoc Cat 2.
Doan Ngoc Nam, chairman of Phuoc Cat 2 commune's People's Committee, said police started the investigation after officials from Cat Tien National Park and the district forest rangers confiscated the animal's entrails from two people who were selling its meat.
The confiscation had been made following a local tip-off.
They also seized the animal's head from a buyer in nearby Phuoc Cat 1 commune, Nam said.
All the meat of the gaur, believed to weigh some 360 kilograms, had already been sold before the agencies stepped in, Nam was quoted as saying, adding that each kilogram cost around VND100,000 (US$4.75).
The animal, Bos gaurus, was killed when it was searching for food near a residential area around the park on October 5, Nguyen Van Dien, director of the park, told Thanh Nien.
Meanwhile, Tuoi Tre quoted an unnamed source as saying that the suspects told police they had chased after the gaur, forcing it to a spring where they slashed it to death with knives.
They later brought its body to a nearby forest and butchered it for sale, the news report said.
Dien told the newspaper that the bovine was one of the park's 120 gaurs. The species is listed as "critically endangered" in Vietnam.
In other related news, police in the southern province of Dong Nai on Monday announced that they had taken into custody two men for allegedly poaching a rare douc in Cat Tien park last month.
Phan Van Thuan Anh, 27, and Huynh Van Cu, 47, are being investigated for their alleged violations of Vietnamese regulations regarding rare wildlife protection. They are accused of shooting the 2.7 kilogram monkey on September 15.
The douc's species, however, has yet to be identified.
Police have sent samples for tests, a report on Vietnam News Agency said.
According to the news report, the national park, which lies in Lam Dong, Dong Nai and the southern province of Binh Phuoc, currently hosts two douc species red-shanked douc (Pygathrix nemaeus), and black-shanked douc (Pygathrix nigripes).
Both are endangered, according to Vietnamese authorities and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.
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