August 14, 2009

Rare species face extinction in Vietnam

Several rare species in Vietnam including the white-handed gibbon and tapir face extinction because of a growing appetite for wild meat, experts say.

The protection and preservation of wildlife in Vietnam should become a priority, experts told an international conference in Ninh Binh Province's Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve, the Thanh Nien News reported.

Dang Huy Huynh, chairman of the Vietnam Zoology Association, said in the past poaching of wildlife met the demand of those living in mountainous regions. However, since then the market for wild meat has spread across the nation with such meat being served in restaurants and resorts, the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The report said about 200 species of wildlife, about 80 of them rare, are currently traded in the country. They include snakes, monitor lizards, turtles, wild cats, tigers, leopards, bears, elephants, wild boars, deer, monkeys, white-handed gibbon, civet and tapir.

Nguyen Dang Vang, who chairs the National Assembly's Science, Technology and Environment Committee, estimated 18 percent of the 3,400 tons of wild meat currently consumed annually in Vietnam is illegally sold.

Vietnam has laws for the preservation of wildlife but they have not been strictly enforced.