Traffic police in northern Phu Yen Province caught a man illegally transporting 49 live pangolins, an endangered wildlife species, in an ambulance last month.
Le Van Tung, 26, of Thanh Hoa Province, was caught carrying the animals weighing 255.8 kilograms in total without any documents in an ambulance that departed from Ho Chi Minh City on October 16.
The police had chased and forced the ambulance to stop for examination while it was travelling in Phu Yen’s Dong Hoa District after noticing suspicious signs.
The total value of the pangolins is estimated at VND511 million ($24,100).
Tung told police that he did not know the identity of the seller or the buyer of the pangolins. He only said he was transporting the animals from District 12, HCMC to Ky Anh District, northern Ha Tinh Province.
For this illegal act, Tung has been fined VND450 million ($21,200), said Do Duy Vinh, the spokesman of the provincial People’s Committee.
These pangolins belong to Group IIB, the group of rare animals restricted from being held in captivity, hunted, traded or killed.
Trading pangolins is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement signed by Vietnam.
No change of ownership for ambulance
After investigations, the provincial Forest Protection Sub-department police discovered that the ambulance originated from Thanh An Saigon Hospital’s Vinh City Branch in Nghe An Province.
The hospital had sold the vehicle to Nguyen Huu Tien, a 33-year-old man of Nghe An Province, in July 2013 for VND330 million.
Tien has yet to carry out the required procedures for an ownership change.
Tung said he had used a false number plate for the vehicle to avoid detection.
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.
In late December 2012, a joint inspection team in Ha Tinh Province intercepted a truck illegally carrying more than 100 live pangolins weighing nearly 500 kg. The animals were valued at over VND2 billion ($96,000).