Wild animals are being stolen from the wild to meet the demand for ‘cute’ pets, despite the species being undomesticated, unfit for captivity and their wild populations detrimentally affected and even threatened with extinction. The demand for monkeys, otters, sugar gliders and other illegal and exotic species comes largely from their popularization as pets on social media. In cases where the species is exotic, the introduction of non-native species into Vietnam poses a great risk to biodiversity and human health, since zoonotic diseases can be spread globally through the pet trade and lack of regulation when transporting wildlife across the globe.

Once wild animals have been taken from the wild, there are risks to reintroducing them to the wild if they have been captive for a considerable amount of time. This means that even after wildlife is confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade, we cannot undo the damage that has been done to these wild animal populations. Also, when they are a non-native species, release into the wild is not an option. The demand must stop through public awareness and crime deterrence.

Education for Nature Vietnam strives to protect wildlife from the illegal and exotic pet trade by:

  • Researching into online wildlife crime and getting accounts deactivated, wildlife selling groups shut down, and supporting police action in serious violations
  • Receiving reports of wildlife crime from members of the public
  • Raising public awareness that wildlife are not pets through campaigns, viral ads, radio shows, and other outreach methods
  • Supporting law enforcement action, including both administrative and criminal punishments, ensuring a violation is handled to the fullest extent of the law

ENV receives multiple reports from members of the public seeing macaques, turtles, otters, birds and other species at residences, business establishments, and online, resulting in their confiscation and, in some cases, punishment for the seller. This shows the public to be increasingly aware that wildlife should not be kept as pets, as well as motivated to do something about it by making a report to ENV.

In 2021, there were 132 macaques, 574 turtles and tortoises, 150 snakes and 10 otters confiscated or voluntarily transferred from the illegal wildlife trade. Online selling of wildlife contributes significantly to the illegal and exotic pet trade, with ENV handling 2,486 internet crime cases last year. The trade keeps growing and adapting, with online sellers finding new and more inventive ways to evade detection each time they are caught. They must be deterred by lack of demand and too high a risk of punishment.

Help spread the word: wild animals aren’t pets!

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