When South-east Asia’s forests fall silent


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.

Demand for bushmeat and exotic pets from city dwellers is contributing to the emptying of South-east Asia’s forests. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Demand for bushmeat and exotic pets from city dwellers is contributing to the emptying of South-east Asia’s forests. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

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.

Wild animals sold at a market in Ho Chi Minh City. VIDEO: ANTON L. DELGADO
Wild animals sold at a market in Ho Chi Minh City. VIDEO: ANTON L. DELGADO

Tiếp tục đọc “When South-east Asia’s forests fall silent”

Sri Lanka fuel shortage takes massive toll on efforts to save wildlife


  • Sri Lanka continues to face the brunt of the worst economic crisis in the country’s history, with depleted foreign reserves resulting in acute fuel shortages nationwide.
  • The shortages and limited rations are affecting conservation efforts, including the timely treatment of wild animals, regular patrolling to thwart poaching, and mitigation actions to limit human-elephant conflict.
  • Fuel allocations for the wildlife conservation department have been halved, and both wildlife and forest officials say this has made operations extremely difficult.
  • The threat of forest fires also looms as the dry season gets underway, which typically calls for more patrols to prevent burning by poachers and forest encroachers.

COLOMBO — Anyone who’d ever seen Maheshakya in the wildernesses of Kebithigollewa in Sri Lanka’s North Central province agreed that, as elephants went, he was an exemplary specimen with large tusks. Earlier this year, he got into a fight with another elephant, which left Maheshakya seriously wounded. As he lay in pain, still alive and conscious, a poacher cut off one of his tusks. Twenty days later, Maheshakya was dead.

In the time since Maheshakya had suffered his injuries during the fight, veterinarians from the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) were able to check on him just twice. Before this year, Maheshakya would have received many more visits, possibly preventing the loss of his tusk and subsequent death. But Sri Lanka’s ongoing economic crisis, the worst in the country’s history, meant that was not to be.

“If we had more opportunity to treat the elephant and visit frequently, there was a chance of saving his life. But we did not have fuel in our vehicles to make this journey regularly,” said Chandana Jayasinghe, a wildlife veterinary surgeon at the DWC.

Sri Lanka has declared bankruptcy and lacks foreign reserves to import essential goods for its people, such as medicine, fuel and gas. Kilometers-long lines at gas stations have become a permanent scene throughout the country, and although a rationing system is helping shorten the wait times, what little fuel is available isn’t enough for wildlife officials to do their regular work. This leaves response teams, like the one Jayasinghe works on, often unable to go out on rescue missions.

The Attidiya Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Colombo receives several calls a day regarding injured animals, but has been forced to reduce operations due to fuel being in short supply. Image courtesy of the Attidiya Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

Rescue operations affected

Tiếp tục đọc “Sri Lanka fuel shortage takes massive toll on efforts to save wildlife”

Unwanted tigers face uncertain future after years of captivity


By Le Hoang   February 17, 2022 | 02:02 pm GMT+7

Financial problems and complicated procedures have created a situation in which 11 tigers raised in captivity for 15 years remain unwanted in north-central Vietnam.

In 2007, Nguyen Mau Chien, a local in Thanh Hoa Province, bought 10 tiger cubs weighing around seven kilos each from an unidentified seller and brought them from Laos to Vietnam to raise near his home in Xuan Tin Commune of Tho Xuan District.

While his intent in making the purchase was not stated, demand for tiger parts for medicinal purposes has been high in Vietnam and China for a long time.

Chien was fined VND30 million ($1,300) for animal trafficking and tasked with raising the cubs.

In 2008, Chien bought another five tiger cubs from Laos and was fined the same amount. Once again, he was asked to raise the cubs with support from local authorities and the ranger force.

Tiếp tục đọc “Unwanted tigers face uncertain future after years of captivity”

Wildlife trade hub Vietnam is also hub of impunity for traffickers, report says


by Sheryl Lee Tian Tong on 25 November 2021

  • Only one in every seven wildlife seizures made in Vietnam in the past decade has resulted in convictions, a new report by the U.K.-based Environmental Investigation Agency has found.
  • Low numbers of arrests and prosecutions highlight problems of weak enforcement and a lack of coordination between law enforcement agencies, the researchers said.
  • Three-quarters of the shipments originated from African countries, they found, with numerous large-scale seizures indicating transnational organized crime.
  • With pandemic-related restrictions easing, the worry is that the cross-border wildlife trade will come roaring back even as Vietnam struggles to follow up on investigations into past and current seizures.

Tiếp tục đọc “Wildlife trade hub Vietnam is also hub of impunity for traffickers, report says”

The young Vietnamese helping tackle the illegal wildlife trade


Trang Nguyen is a rarity in Vietnam where civil society is viewed with scepticism and most young people want more lucrative careers.

Trang has won international recognition for her work including the Future for Nature Award [Theo Krus/Courtesy of Trang Nguyen]
Trang has won international recognition for her work including the Future for Nature Award [Theo Krus/Courtesy of Trang Nguyen]

By Sen Nguyen10 Sep 2021

Standing on top of a four-wheel drive looking out at a central Kenyan wildlife reserve wearing a bucket hat and walking boots, Trang Nguyen stands apart from most Vietnamese who prefer European charm and East Asian wonders for their holidays and photographic memories.

But Trang is no ordinary traveller.

The 31-year-old founder and executive director of WildAct, a Vietnamese conservation NGO, travels the world as a wildlife conservation scientist.

Tiếp tục đọc “The young Vietnamese helping tackle the illegal wildlife trade”

Vietnam’s wildlife defender fights poachers and prejudice

By AFP   March 24, 2021 | 11:09 am GMT+7 VNExpressVietnam's wildlife defender fights poachers and prejudiceTrang Nguyen has spent much of her life trying to end the illegal wildlife trade. Photo by AFP/Nhac Nguyen.As a small girl, Trang Nguyen saw a bear stabbed through the chest with a giant needle at her neighbor’s house in northern Vietnam.

The bear, flat on its back, was being pumped for its bile, a fluid drawn from its gallbladder that has long been used in traditional medicine to treat liver disease.

“I had seen visitors to Hanoi zoo who brought sticks to poke animals and it really made my blood boil,” Trang, the founder of local conservation group WildAct, told AFP.

“But conservation wasn’t something I really wanted to do until I witnessed what happened to this bear.”

It was the first of her many encounters with a global multi-billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade that devastates species the world over, fuels corruption and threatens human health.

The 31-year-old — named by the BBC in 2019 as one of the world’s most inspiring and influential women — has spent much of her time since then trying to end the scourge.

She has gone undercover in South Africa to snare traffickers and secured a PhD in traditional medicine’s impact on wildlife.

Trang has also set up her home country’s first postgraduate course for aspiring conservationists, to help more Vietnamese make it to the top of her field.

In the 1990s, decades of war and isolation meant environmental awareness was a new notion in Vietnam.

From macaques to crabs, wildlife faces threat from face masks

12 Jan 2021 11:50AM(Updated: 12 Jan 2021 11:58AM) CNA

KUALA LUMPUR: Masks that helped save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic are proving a deadly hazard for wildlife, with birds and marine creatures ensnared in the staggering number of discarded facial coverings littering animal habitats.

Tiếp tục đọc “From macaques to crabs, wildlife faces threat from face masks”

Taskforce in national park rescues hundreds of trapped animals

31/07/2020    11:23 GMT+7 vietnamnet

In the Pu Mat National Park of the central province of Nghe An, there is a special task force that rescues wild animals trapped by hunters.

Taskforce in national park rescues hundreds of trapped animals
The animal rescue team of Pu Mat National Park passes a stream while patrolling the forest (Photo: thanhnien.vn)

The animal rescue team of the park has 15 members carefully selected from 170 candidates.


Vietnam’s illegal ivory market continues to thrive, report finds

Using artificial intelligence to investigate illegal wildlife trade on social media


Date:March 12, 2018 Source:University of Helsinki


These are Southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) in an undisclosed protected area in South Africa.
Credit: Enrico Di Minin

Illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity conservation and is currently expanding to social media. This is a worrisome trend, given the ease of access and popularity of social media. Efficient monitoring of illegal wildlife trade on social media is therefore crucial for conserving biodiversity.

In a new article published in the journal Conservation Biology, scientists from the University of Helsinki, Digital Geography Lab, argue that methods from artificial intelligence can be used to help monitor the illegal wildlife trade on social media. Tiếp tục đọc “Using artificial intelligence to investigate illegal wildlife trade on social media”

Large-scale illegal trade in hundreds of wild-collected ornamental plants in Southeast Asia

Date:September 14, 2015

Source:National University of Singapore

Sciencedaily – Southeast Asia is a widely recognised centre of illegal wildlife trade — both as the source region for species ranging from seahorses to tigers, and as a global consumer of ivory carvings, wild pets, and traditional Chinese medicinal products.

While there are mounting efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade, including within Singapore to reduce demand for wildlife products, the illegal trade in some species still remains undocumented.

Associate Professor Edward L. Webb, from the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and NUS PhD graduate Dr Jacob Phelps, have uncovered a previously little recognised Southeast Asian wildlife trade — the illegal sale of wild-collected ornamental plants, especially orchids.

Their findings were recently published in the journal Biological Conservation in June 2015.

Uncovering the “invisible” orchid trade

The researchers conducted extensive surveys of wildlife markets across Thailand, including border markets with Laos and Myanmar, and identified more than 400 species of ornamental plants in illegal trade — species widely prized by plant enthusiasts for their beauty, fragrance and/or rarity. Over 80% of these plants traded at the markets are wild orchids. Some of these were even listed in published literature as threatened. Tiếp tục đọc “Large-scale illegal trade in hundreds of wild-collected ornamental plants in Southeast Asia”