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Ambulance caught carrying 49 live pangolins

Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 15:42 GMT+7

Traffic police in the northern Phu Yen province on Monday chased a suspicious ambulance and caught it carrying no patients but 49 live pangolins, which are an endangered species. The total weight of the pangolins is nearly 256 kg and the ambulance’s driver failed to show any documents related to the animals, a rare and precious species belonging to 2B group. The animals, weighing from 1 kg to 10.4 kg each, were packed in bags so none of them was in good health condition when being detected. The driver Le Van Tung, 26, of central Nghe An Province, had attempted to drive away when police signaled him to stop on National Highway 1 in Phu Yen’s Dong Hoa District for examination. Tung told police he was hired to transport the animals from Ho Chi Minh City to a northern province. He did not disclose the name of the animals’ possessor and the owner of the ambulance, with number plate 57M-9017. On October 22, Le Van Be, deputy head of the Phu Yen Forest Protection Sub-department, said the provincial People’s Committee has asked the sub-department in conjunction with other relevant agencies to confiscate and sell these animals to qualified wildlife breeding centers.   Concerned agencies have priced these animals at VND511.6 million (US$24,130) in total. In related news, customs officers in northern Hai Phong City in early August seized 6.2 tons of live pangolins hidden in a 40’’ container shipped from Indonesia. As shown in the customs declaration for the container, the goods inside were declared to be fish, fish bones and fish stomach, but after an inspection customs officers from Hai Phong Port detected the fraud. In late December 2012, a joint inspection team in Ha Tinh Province caught a truck illegally carrying more than 100 live pangolins weighing nearly 500 kg. The animals were valued at over VND2 billion ($96,000). Trading in pangolins is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement to which Vietnam is a party.

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