The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia on May 2 conferred the “Hero to Animals” awards on three Hanoi police units for their recent feats of busting the illegal transport and trading of over 100 king cobras.
According to the PETA news release on May 2, the Traffic Police Team 14 of Hanoi’s Hoang Mai District Police Department and the Police Department of Environment Related Crimes under the Ministry of Public Security were honored with the awards for two seizures resulting in the rescue of more than 100 illegally transported king cobras.
The two units pulled over a taxi on 21 April and seized 53 king cobras, weighing 164 kg in total, inside the car.
According to Ha Noi Moi, the cobras, which are rare animals, were estimated to fetch VND300 mil (US$14,340) on the local market.
The driver, Nguyen Van Hao from northern Vinh Phuc province, said that the snakes were transported for the black market trading, and he was paid $50 for the trip.
According to police officers, the snakes were soon transferred to the Soc Son Wildlife Rescue center near Hanoi, where they received medical treatment before being released back into the wild.
Earlier, on May 19, the Traffic Police Unit No. 14 stopped another car illegally carrying 56 king cobras on the Phap Van Highway, also in Hanoi.
Nguyen Van Hai, from Vinh Phuc province, admitted he was hired by a stranger to illegally transport the animals for VND1 million (US$50).
“We applaud the police officers for their brave efforts in combating wildlife illegal trade in these two busts”, said PETA Asia Vice President Jason Baker.
“Police officers and concerned citizens alike can all help prevent and stop the trade in wildlife by saying no to purchasing exotic animals and by reporting suspicious activity.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), based in the US, is one of the largest animal rights organizations in the world, with more than 3 million members and supporters.
PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.
The King cobra is one of the world’s most common and venomous snakes. The serpent is also the world’s longest venomous snake as it can grow up to 5.5 meters in length.
Snake poaching is illegal yet rampant in Vietnam. The snake’s meat is considered a delicacy in many parts of Asia along with numerous other uses of its skin and venom as luxury decorative items, traditional potions and antidotes.