Tran Vu Tai might believe in the religious ritual of releasing caged animals to generate good karma, but choosing venomous snakes was a step too far.
Tai, a Chinese national now residing temporarily in Ho Chi Minh City, along with two friends, was caught red-handed by forest rangers in the southern province of An Giang on Tuesday, about to release a huge number of poisonous reptiles into the wild.
The three were captured near a pagoda on a mountain in the province’s Tri Ton District.
“The case was booked and we slapped Tai with a VND7.5 million [US$335] fine for illegally transporting wild animals without a license or permission from local authorities,” Ly Vinh Dinh, head of the district forest ranger agency said.
Dinh said his agency received a tip-off from local residents, who saw Tai and his men carrying several bags allegedly containing snakes to the mountain.
Park officers arrived at the scene immediately and stopped the three men just prior to their intended act, and seized the ten bags of venomous snakes.
Tai told the forest protection officers that they only wanted to release the snakes for good luck, as per a religious practice.
While the ritual is normally performed with birds or fish, Tai chose to do it with ten bags of venomous snakes including the copperhead and king cobra, collectively weighing 26kg.
“We are working with a wildlife rescue agency in the nearby Kien Giang Province to house those snakes in an appropriate sanctuary,” Dinh said.