A court in Vietnam on Tuesday sentenced a man to thirteen years in prison for wildlife trafficking. He smuggled almost ten tonnes of animal parts from Africa, police said.
The court in the city of Danang found the 33-year-old man guilty of transporting elephant tusks, rhino horns, pangolin scales and lion bones from Africa to Vietnam in 2021.
Even though the wildlife trade is illegal, Vietnam is known to be a major hub for wildlife trafficking, with a high demand for products made from endangered animals both domestically and internationally.
Some of the animals that are commonly trafficked in Vietnam include tigers, rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and various species of birds and reptiles. Earlier this month, authorities in Vietnam seized over 600 kg of ivory imported from Africa.
There are several reasons why wildlife trafficking is so popular in Vietnam, including the country’s location at the crossroads of several major smuggling routes, weak law enforcement, and a lack of public awareness about the importance of protecting endangered animals.
Vietnam has taken steps to address the issue of wildlife trafficking, including passing laws to strengthen penalties for wildlife crimes, establishing wildlife protection areas, and implementing awareness campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of consuming wildlife products.
However, the trade continues to persist, driven by a lucrative black market and a lack of resources to combat the problem effectively.
Bui Thi Ha, deputy director of the conservation group Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), said the trafficker’s conviction was a rare case where authorities had successfully punished someone for criminal liability in wildlife trafficking.
He added that the people who ordered the shipment of nearly 10 tonnes of wild animals are still free. Wildlife trafficking is a complex and organized criminal activity involving many poachers, middlemen and consumers.