An international team of wildlife authorities seized hundreds of kilograms of wildlife meat during a raid on 12 restaurants in Da Lat conducted on August 26.
Nearly 100 forest rangers and experts from the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society rushed into a dozen restaurants simultaneously and recovered a bonanza of illicit meat.
Tran Thanh Binh, Chief Forest Ranger for Lam Dong Province, said the raids had to be timed together to prevent the establishments from alerting one another of their presence in the area. They are all connected, Binh said.
The senior ranger said that his agents had scouted the establishements prior to the raid to ensure that the busineses would be caught red-handed.
One restaurant was discovered to possess a virtual menagerie of banned meat, including two bear hands, the head of a chamois and lynx skins. Three protected anteaters were also recovered there in addition to cuts of musk-deer and porcupine.
Most of the animal parts were found soaking in formaldehyde.
A team at another restaurant seized 27 different snakes weighing a total of 14 kilograms. The owner claimed to have bred the snakes but failed to demonstrate any proof of the claim.
All told, more than 312 kilograms of wild animals were recovered in the operation. Some restaurants did not have any illicit meat in stock but their menus suggested that they served wildlife dishes.
Binh said the restuarant raid was the most successful operation in province history.
The senior ranger said that the investigation is still underway; but he pledged to ask city officials to consider revoking business licenses of the restaurants.