Wildcats, which are named in the list of rare and endangered forest animals in Vietnam, are being sold wildly on social networks as the Lunar New Year holiday draws near.
The animals are in demand as some people want to raise them for luck in the Year of the Cat.
On January 13, a man named De from the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum peddled an over-3kg wildcat at VND2.2 million (US$94), claiming the animal to be 'pure' and trapped around a week ago.
According to De, people raise wildcats as they are believed to bring luck, and also because of their fierce looks.
Buyers choose the size of the cat at their will, De added.
“People who buy the cats for eating prefer big felines, those who raise them choose smaller ones, and those who want to breed them also choose the big ones,” he said.
To purchase a wildcat, buyers need to make a deposit before De deliver the animal by passenger bus.
“I have to receive a deposit before I send them, this animal is in the Red List,” he explained.
“However, many people now raise them.”
De also confirmed that he would give his buyers a refund in case of any problem in transportation, adding that he has sold many.
Meanwhile, Duy in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City peddled a 3kg wildcat at VND4 million (US$171).
|A screenshot from a video shows a wildcat VND4 million ($171) Duy sells in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City.|
Duy said he bought the animal after it was caught in the forest.
“Just keep it inside the house without anyone knowing,” Duy told his buyer, acknowledging that it is illegal to raise wildcats.
“A lot of people raise them as pets, but it’s prohibited so we have to be careful.”
According to Nguyen Quang Hoang, deputy head of the Wildlife Rescue Station under the Ho Chi Minh City Forest Protection Department, the wildcat’s scientific name is Prionailurus bengalensis, which is among the wild animals of Group IIB in the list of rare and endangered forest species.
It is against the law to keep, trade, and transport wildcats and other wild animals without documents proving their legal origin, he added.
Violators shall be administratively sanctioned or prosecuted depending on the violations.
Hoang also warned about those sellers who would tell buyers that wildcat owners would not be punished.
|A screenshot from a video shows a wildcat Tri keeps at a house in Nhi Binh Commune, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City.|
A cat raiser named Tri in Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City took your correspondents to a place where a wildcat and four hybrid wildcats were captured.
Tri does not sell the pure wildcat as he keeps it for breeding. He only sells two pairs of first- generation cats cross-bred between the wildcat and British Shorthair at VND3 million ($128) per pair.
Tri does not have any documents for the pure wildcat as well as hybrid cats at his place.
According to him, it is safe to carry his first-generation cats on the street.
“It’s OK to carry a pure wildcat on the street,” Tri said. “You’ll only get caught if you carry three to four felines.”
Another seller named Tuan also keeps his wildcats at a house in Hoc Mon District.
“I bought the cats from hunters in my hometown as I’m specializing in selling these kinds of items,” Tuan said, admitting to having no documents for the animals.
|Tuan showcases his cats at a house in Thoi Tam Thon Commune, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City.|
According to Tuan, the cats he sells were caught in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan.
A three-month-old cat, weighing around 800 grams, with a swollen eyelid due to bee stings, at Tuan’s place fetches VND1.5 million ($64).
Smaller cats weighing 400-600 grams are sold at VND3.5 million ($149) each.
Smaller wildcats are easier to tame so they are normally sold at higher rates, Tuan said.
|A screenshot from a video shows a wildcat fetching VND1.5 million ($64) at Tuan’s place.|
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