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Few of Vietnam’s wildlife species are immune to the illegal wildlife trade. Birds, porcupines, monitor lizards and leopard cats, amongst many other species, are commonly hunted, smuggled, sold, or consumed in Vietnam.
The loris is a small nocturnal primate. They live in trees and come out at night to hunt insects, small birds and reptiles. There are two species of loris in Vietnam, the slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) and the pygmy loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus).
Both species are threatened by hunting and trade, largely to support the demand for these cute and cuddly creatures as pets, though they are also used in traditional medicine.
There are five species of macaques native to Vietnam. These include the long-tailed or crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis), pig-tailed macaque (Macaca leonina), Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), and the Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis).
All five of Vietnam’s macaque species are threatened by hunting and trade. Large numbers of macaques are legally exported each year to Europe and the US where they are used in cosmetic and biomedical research laboratories. However, many of these animals are suspected of being wild-caught and laundered through legal farms.
Macaques are also used in traditional medicine, kept as pets in Vietnam, and eaten at wildlife restaurants.
There are six gibbon species native to Vietnam, including one which was only recently described in 2010. All of Vietnam’s gibbons are endangered. Gibbons are hunted and consumed as food in some remote areas, but more often they are sold and kept as pets or in private zoos, or used to attract and entertain visitors at cafes, restaurants and hotels.
Vietnam is home to eleven langur species, four of which are found nowhere else in the world. Most of them are critically endangered.
Langurs are hunted and used in traditional medicine, or eaten in some remote areas. They are also sold as pets and kept at resorts, hotels, businesses and private homes; however, they rarely survive because of their specialized diet.
There are two species of pangolins native to Vietnam. The Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) lives in northern parts of the country, while the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) lives in southern regions.
Pangolins are hunted throughout their range. They are consumed as food and valued for their scales, which are used to make traditional medicine. Large quantities of pangolins and pangolin scales are also smuggled through Vietnam to China.
Vietnam is home to 25 species of tortoises and freshwater turtles, including three species that are found nowhere else in the world. Most of Vietnam’s native species are threatened due to illegal hunting and trade.
Hard shell turtles are often exported to China or other international markets where they are sold as exotic food, or used in traditional Chinese medicine. Soft shell turtles are commonly consumed by Vietnamese in restaurants. Some of Vietnam’s rarer turtles also end up in American, European, and other international pet markets.
There are also five marine turtle species native to Vietnam, although the two species most commonly caught by fishermen are the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas). While some fishermen release marine turtles back into the wild when accidentally caught, others bring them ashore where they are sold as pets, or slaughtered for their shell which is used to make products such as jewelry, combs, eye-glasses or ornaments. ENV helps to get marine turtles confiscated from fishermen and released back into the ocean.
Civets are a group of small, cat-like carnivores. Vietnam is home to a dozen or more species including the masked palm civet (Paguma larvata), common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), and binturong (Arctictis binturong).
Many of Vietnam’s civet species end up on the menu at wildlife restaurants.
Snakes are considered a delicacy at wildlife restaurants in Vietnam, where they are served in special dishes or in “snake wine”. Large numbers of snakes are also smuggled from Vietnam across the border to be consumed in China.