• Hundreds of pounds of illegal wildlife from more than a dozen species seized in restaurants by authorities
  • WCS helped organize major enforcement campaign   

NEW YORK (September 2, 2010) – Hundreds of pounds of illegal wildlife from nearly 20 species were seized from restaurants in the largest enforcement campaign of its kind in Vietnam’s Lam Dong Province, the Wildlife Conservation Society reported today.

More than 100 officers from the Lam Dong Forest Protection Department (FPD) swept through Da Lat City and surrounding district towns beginning last week and confiscated over 850 pounds of wildlife including meat from wild pigs, civets, pangolins, porcupine, mouse deer, monitor lizards, bear paws, bamboo rats, snakes, and sambar deer.  They also seized skins from black-shanked duoc langurs, clouded leopard, short-clawed otter, serow, muntjac, leopard cat, flying squirrel, common palm civet, binturong, and small Indian civet.  

More than a dozen restaurant owners have been arrested and fined so far, and criminal prosecutions are underway for the wholesaler supplying the restaurants.

The ongoing campaign, developed with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), National Environmental Police, Dr. Mai The Bay, and with the support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), follows recent surveys in Da Lat City that found 44 restaurants and 33 Traditional Chinese Medicine shops serving wildlife.

“The detection and prosecution of restaurants illegally serving wildlife is a critical step in the battle for wildlife conservation in Vietnam,” said Mr. Tran Thanh Binh, Head of Lam Dong Forest Protection Department said. “The campaign today is our warning shot to illegal wildlife traders that Lam Dong province will not condone wildlife violators anymore.”

Scott Roberton, Wildlife Conservation Society Country Representative for Vietnam said, “WCS commends the strong and decisive actions of Lam Dong province on tackling wildlife trade in Da Lat City and hopes these seizures will be followed up with investigations to identify and prosecute the illegal traders behind the restaurants. The future of wildlife in Vietnam hangs in the balance, but with more agencies showing a strong commitment like Lam Dong Forest Protection Department, things could change for the better very quickly.”

“Illegal trade is the largest single threat to wildlife in Asia,” said Joe Walston, WCS director for Asia Programs.  “Strict enforcement of existing laws, such as what is happening in Lam Dong, is crucial to stemming this crisis, so that wildlife can thrive for future generations.”

Investigations are underway into the source of the wildlife and the trade networks supplying it.

The Wildlife Conservation Society recently convinced the Travel Channel to re-edit episodes "No Reservations" and "Bizarre Foods" that showed consumption of illegal wildlife in restaurants in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)  

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

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