Vietnam rangers take 49 pangolins smuggled in ambulance

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Phu Yen forest ranger checks bags of pangolins seized from an ambulance Friday night. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Forest rangers in the central province of Phu Yen have transferred 49 endangered pangolins to qualified wildlife facilities after police seized them from smugglers driving an ambulance last week.

Le Van Be, deputy head of Phu Yen Forest Management Department, told Tuoi Tre that the animals, also known as anteaters after their typical food, were seized from an ambulance on Friday night.

Be said driver Le Van Tung, 26, from the central province of Nghe An, had ignored traffic police's stop signal and forced them to chase after him.

The ambulance had no passengers or patients other than nearly 256 kilograms of dead pangolins without legal documents.

Tung failed to produce the vehicle's registration paper. He did not disclose the owners or customers of the consignment either, only saying it came from Ho Chi Minh City and was bound for the north.

Authorities said the animals would be sold for more than US$24,000.

Pangolins are protected under both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Vietnamese law.

Poaching, killing, keeping such animals in captivity, or smuggling and trafficking their parts are punishable by up to seven years in jail in Vietnam.

The offenders can also be fined up to 500 million ($23,700).

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