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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.
There are two bear species native to Vietnam; the Asiatic black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) and the Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus).
The demand for bear bile poses a critical threat to Vietnam’s bears. Bears are hunted in the wild and sold live to commercial farms, where they are exploited for their bile to meet consumer demand. Bears are also hunted for their meat and body parts, or to be kept as pets.
Scientists estimate that Vietnam may be home to less than 100 wild Asian elephants today, living in three small groups in Dak Lak, Dong Nai and Nghe An provinces.
Major threats to elephants include habitat loss and hunting, mainly to exploit the ivory tusks found only on male Asian elephants. Wild elephants are also captured live for domestication and used as work animals and for tourism.
Vietnam is home to the Indochinese tiger subspecies (Panthera tigris corbetti). This subspecies is also found in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos PDR and China. Experts believe that as few as 30 tigers may remain in the wild in Vietnam, most surviving in border areas of the central and northwest region of the country.
The biggest threats to Vietnam’s tigers are hunting and illegal trade. Tigers are mainly traded for their bones which are used to make tiger bone glue; however, they are also consumed in the form of wine, and highly valued as decorations and jewelry.
Vietnam’s wild tiger populations are also threatened by habitat loss mainly due to deforestation, and the loss of the large ungulate prey such as gaur and sambar deer that they need to survive.
A collection of public feedback highlights from ENV’s wildlife trade exhibits, bear exhibits and the volunteer fanpage, gathered during March 2013.