Turtles, snakes of wildlife sellers escape over border, entering shopping malls
VietNamNet Bridge - In the Mekong Delta provinces of Long An, Dong Thap and An Giang, numerous signboards of establishments selling snakes, turtles and birds of different kinds can be seen.


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The owners of the establishments said they can provide from tens to hundreds of wild kilograms of animals for one order and claim that all the animals are caught in the wild. 

However, the establishments along the highways are only one part of the wildlife trading activities and just serve as ‘showrooms’ that introduce products. The busy wildlife markets gather on inter-provincial routes and the districts’ central markets.

After many hours of travel, reporters recently arrived in An Phu Shopping Center in the area, just several kilometers away from the border line with Cambodia.

Inside the mall, there were many stalls which displayed birds and animals for sale in the open air. Strings of birds were hung upside down, while numerous buckets of snakes were on the ground. Customers could see animals and choose which they wanted.

Khanh An Shopping Center, a few kilometers from An Phu, is a ‘twin’ of An Phu. It is a sizable building located near the Vietnam-Cambodia border area and well known for bird and animal trading activities. 

A merchant in Khanh An revealed that he could sell tens or hundreds of kilograms of snakes and turtles every day. Snakes are sold at VND100,000-300,000 per kilogram. The buyers are individuals and restaurants, and sometimes big traders.

Some locals said most of the snakes and turtles for sale are bought from the delta along the banks of Mekong River and Tonle Sap area. The snakes and turtles are caught in a wild in Cambodia, then sold to merchants who bring the animals to Vietnam for sale.

“Birds and animals can also be poached in the areas of Tra Su Acacia Forest (An Giang), Lang Sen Wetland Reserve (Long An) and Tram Chim National Park (Dong Thap). But the most stable supply source is from Cambodia,” a local man said.

Some locals said most of the snakes and turtles for sale are bought from the delta along the banks of Mekong River and Tonle Sap area. The snakes and turtles are caught in a wild in Cambodia, then sold to merchants who bring the animals to Vietnam for sale.

Wondering why rare and precious animals can be easily carried across the border gates, reporters tried to seek information from some goods owners.

H was one of them. In the past, he and his family members earned their living by timber smuggling from Cambodia. They shifted to trading turtles and snakes one year ago.

He said if someone is caught by foreign rangers or border police when carrying several animals, they have to give only VND2-3 million to fund the officials’ parties. 

However, in order to carry animals in large quantities, a person needs to have documents showing the origin of the animals.


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Kim Mai

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