For decades, people across South-east Asia have been hunting wild animals for food. But commercial pressures and cheaper snaring methods are causing the region’s forests to be emptied faster than they can be replenished — with repercussions for human and forest health.
They were taken to the wildlife rescue centre not in cages but in fine mesh bags, as though they were already fresh meat being sold by the gram.
But the four ferret badgers were still alive and kicking.
The mammals had been literally rescued from the jaws of death.
VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA – Local policemen had seized them from a restaurant and taken them to Save Vietnam’s Wildlife’s facility located within Cuc Phuong National Park, about a two-hour drive from Hanoi.
“The restaurant bought them from people who caught them from the forest,” said Mr Tran Van Truong, who as captive coordinator is in charge of the facility’s operations. “They are a bit stressed now, but they seem okay otherwise. We can probably release them back into the wild after a few days.”
Not all of man’s wild quarry are as lucky.
Trapping wild animals for bushmeat may be illegal in Vietnam, but the practice is still widespread in the country. In other parts of South-east Asia too, the Covid-19 pandemic and its likely origins in the wildlife trade has had nary an impact on the region’s appetite for wild meat.
Wild animals are still being taken from the forests in large numbers, to be eaten or kept as pets, and we discovered how voracious appetites for them were still during visits to Vietnam and Cambodia in September.