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More quarantine enclosures to deal with increased pangolin confiscations

A cement room furnished with tree branches

As the illegal wildlife trade continues, confiscations increase and we expand our facilities to cope with more pangolins and small carnivores.

2016 has seen a large rise in confiscated pangolins being transferred to our rescue centre in Cuc Phuong National Park. In 2016 we have received over 250 pangolins and 10 small carnivores to our centre which have sometimes stretched our capacity. We have just completed the building of 12 new quarantine enclosures to cope with the increased demand.
The new multi-functional enclosures can house pangolins and small carnivores and bring to a total of 32 quarantine enclosures in addition to existing enclosures for our longer term residents who cannot be released due to health or safety reasons.

Quarantine building almost complete

The quarantine enclosures are for short term residents of our centre. Once an animal is transferred to us, it spends generally 20- 30 days in quarantine while its health is monitored prior to its release back to a safe habitat in the wild.
Critically endangered pangolins are very susceptible to captive stress and have very special housing requirements. They need safe climbing space, a sleeping burrow where they can feel safe and secure (and warm in winter), and easy access for keepers so they can monitor pangolins with minimum disruption while they are recovering from wound injuries, digestive problems, stress and dehydration that are common in confiscated animals.

Digging the foundations for the new quarantine building

The quarantine enclosures are designed to house two animals at a time if required, however ideally we house animals individually. This is because pangolins are solitary animals and most do better when housed alone. Although on some occasions we have observed that some pangolins prefer a companion in their enclosure. Mothers and pups remain together until the pup is independent and ready for release. This may take up to six or nine months and so these animals are moved to a larger pangolarium while awaiting their eventual release back to wild.

Twenty Sunda Pangolins released back into the wild

A pangolin release

20 Sunda Pangolins were released on 10 August to a safe and undisclosed location in Vietnam. The critically endangered pangolins were rescued from the wildlife trade and rehabilitated at SVW/CPCP in Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh Province.

The released pangolins were part of a seizure of 22 pangolins confiscated by the Forest Protection Department (FPD) officers in Ninh Binh province in June 2016. Pangolins normally do not survive well in captivity and yet of the 21 pangolins confiscated 20 survived and were released. Phuong Quan Tran, Manager of the CPCP, said, “This successful release and high survival rate of the rehabilitated pangolins is in large part thanks to the co-operation of Ninh Binh FPD which enabled us to release the animals quickly and avoid the high mortality that pangolins normally experience due to captive stress.”

Prior to release the pangolins were given thorough health checks to ensure they had fully recovered from the injuries they received in the illegal wildlife trade and were micro-chipped allowing them to be identified in future.

Executive Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Mr Thai Van Nguyen said “This year we have released 95 Sunda Pangolins confiscated from the wildlife trade back to safe locations in the wild. While this is a good news story, these pangolins represent only a fraction of those pangolins illegally traded each year in Vietnam. We need to do more on enforcement and awareness otherwise these precious mammals may become extinct in our lifetime”.

Lan Thi Kim Ho, SVW Education Outreach Manager, who was part of the release team said of the release, “This is the best part of the job, seeing the animals return to the wild, where they should be”.

Pangolins are the most traded animals in the world. Vietnam has two species (Sunda Pangolin and Chinese Pangolin) and both species are critically endangered, which means both are in imminent threat of becoming extinct in the wild. This latest release will bring to a total of 95 Sunda Pangolins released by Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in the last 14 months.

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife does not disclose the locations of pangolins releases due to the risk of the animals being located and recaptured by poachers. We request that all media do not release ANY information regarding the location of pangolins releases.

NOTE: v2 revised 11 August 2016 to correct typographic error in previous version which stated 21 Pangolins were confiscated by FPD Ninh Binh. The correct number is 22.

22 Sunda pangolins rescued!

Rescued Pangolin 22

Thanks to Ninh Binh province’s Police and Rangers, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife rescued 22 Sunda pangolins from an illegal trade. The pangolins are now still in bad health, recovering…

On 19th June 2016, Police of Ninh Binh Province arrested three people who were illegally transporting 22 pangolins weighting a total of 91 kg by train from Hue to northern localities for sale.

After receiving the news from the Forest Protection Station of Ninh Binh, we immediately went to rescue the animals and brought them back to our centre for care. Most were in poor health as they had been held in tight nets without food and water for a long period. Many of them were force-fed corn meal and other ingredients we are yet to identify to increase their weight.

Despite their poor condition, 21 of the 22 pangolins have survived and most are doing well. We are still monitoring one pangolin who is eating poorly very closely.

Mr Hoang Van Cuong, Head of Forest Protect Team share his thought: “We were very impressed by the professional reaction of SVW staffs. We do hope that the rescued pangolins will recover well and get back to nature soon”.

On behalf of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Mr Nguyen Van Thai send thanks to Ninh Binh Police and Rangers who contacted and helped the team rescued the animals in time.

Vietnam’s First Pangolin Education Centre opened!

Edu Center Opening

The Carnivore and Pangolin Education Centre is a crucial part of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife efforts to fight the wildlife trade in critically endangered pangolins and other threatened carnivores in Vietnam.

On Saturday 20th February, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in collaboration with Cuc Phuong National Park opened Vietnam’s first wildlife education centre that focusses on pangolins, the most traded animal in the world. The opening occurred on World Pangolin Day, an internationally recognised day that offers the opportunity for pangolin enthusiasts and conservationists to join together in raising awareness about these unique mammals and their plight.

The event was attended by over 180 people and included representatives from the Vietnamese government, British Ambassador Giles Levers, dignitaries from international embassies in Vietnam, national conservation organisations and local schoolchildren. A highlight of the launch day was the making of large Pangolin Puzzle by all attendees and local school children performing fun conservation based activities to celebrate World Pangolin Day.

Mr. Đỗ Văn Lập, the Vice Director of Cuc Phuong National Park who gave the opening address stated that “Cuc Phuong National Park is delighted to collaborate with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in this new education venture and it will be an important addition to the many conservation activities currently offered at the park”.

Ho Thi Kim Lan, Education Manager of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife expressed how education is an important arm of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife mission to ensure a secure future for Vietnam’s wildlife: “Our Carnivore and Pangolin Education Centre was devised in response to the urgent need for engaging wildlife education in Vietnam. Education is key! The innovative and interactive atmosphere of the Education Centre will help a wide range of communities enjoy discovering and learning about these unique creatures, understand the threats they are facing and then hopefully mobilize to save these incredible species from extinction.”

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife’ Carnivore and Pangolin Education Centre is located in Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh Province and will be open to the public after the 20th of February.

Release of 24 critically endangered Sunda pangolins back to the wild

Release Pangolins 2015

On 22nd November 2015, we successfully released 24 rescued pangolins back into a protected area in the centre of Vietnam.

Mr Thai Van Nguyen, our Director said: “This is the second time we have released confiscated pangolins back to the wild. In June 2015, 35 Sunda pangolins were released back into the wild”.

He added “The pangolin is one of the most trafficked animals in the world. The 2 species of pangolin in Vietnam are facing extinction. The release of these rescued pangolins helps increase the population of pangolins in the wild. To make sure that the pangolins will be safe in their new habitat, we cooperated with rangers to ensure law enforcement in the area. In August of this year, SVW conducted a rapid assessment of the current protected status of the forest, the habitat and resources available for released pangolins, and forest protection management in the area”.

At 4pm, after an almost 1000 km journey by bus, the group of over 20 officers from SVW/CPCP, and the rangers from the released area, arrived at the release location with the pangolins. The officer were divided into 4 groups to release the pangolins at 4 different areas. The pangolins arrived in good health, and were offered a meal of frozen ants before being released back to the forest. Each pangolin was released 300m apart. The release of the 24 pangolins finished at 9pm, November 22, 2015.

Ms. Heidi Quine, our Technical Advisor shared: “Thanks to the support of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Vietnam, all pangolins were health checked before their release, so we can be confident in their ability to readjust to their life in the wild. Seeing these animals return to the forest is the greatest reward imaginable for the team who has spent countless hours looking after these incredibly rare animals; returning wildlife to the wild is always our goal”.

11 of the released pangolins were from a cohort of 43 pangolins transferred from Yen Thuy district Forest Protection Department (FPD), Hoa Binh province in May 2015. The remaining 13 individuals were handed over by Ninh Binh FPD in June, July and September 2015. The pangolins arrived at SVW/CPCP after being trafficked in nylon bags – unable to move and without access to food or water after an unknown length of time. In a worrying trend, several of the animals were found to have been force-fed with a slurry comprising corn powder and limestone powder. After 5 months of rehabilitation at the centre, the pangolins were deemed ready to return to the wild. In a further boon to the species, one of the pangolins being released into the wild was born at SVW/CPCP after his mother arrived from the wildlife trade pregnant.

Mr. Tran Quang Phuong, our CPCP manager said: “Currently, we are still taking care of many rescued pangolins from both Thanh Hoa province. However we are being denied permission to release these animals as they have been identified as criminal evidence. We hope that the authorities will reach a solution for this issue and change the law of criminal evidence management, so that our conservation work runs smoothly”.

Pangolins made it to WildFest

Pangolins at WildFest

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife together with other conservation organizations joined the WildFest, the Vietnam’s first wildlife film and music festival at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The event attracted about 2000 festivalgoers and our communication booth received the attention of visitors who are interested in protecting pangolins.

At the event, 17 films about wildlife were introduced, one of which is about SVW’s pangolins conservation program illustrated pangolin crisis in Vietnam and our release rescued pangolins and back into the wild some months ago. Live performances by famous singers were also introduced. The festival aims at raising awareness of protecting wild animals and urging people in Vietnam to stop using rhino horn.

During the event, SVW’s communication booth provided visitors opportunity to watch the 45-second-film about our pangolin conservation work and 2 games “Naming the Pangolin Pup” and “Print your Finger to Show Your Commitment”. The awards of the first game were “Save Pangolins” t-shirts and charcoal paintings “Pangolin mother and her pup” draw by Heidi Quine, our Technical Advisor. These games attracted hundreds of festivalgoers including youth people and kids. Moreover, 500 pangolin postcards and hundreds of leaflets were handed to the visitors.

We believe that our message “Stop using pangolin products” was successfully transferred and accepted by the festivalgoers. The event is the great opportunity for us to introduce pangolins to the public and the taking part in of festivalgoers makes us continue working to protect incredible Vietnamese Wildlife.

Rescue 56 Sunda pangolins from Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam

Rescued pangolins

We just rescued 56 Sunda Pangolins from Nga Son District’s Police Force, Thanh Hoa province.

On August 13th, 2015, Nga Son District’s Police Force stopped a driver during routine police inspections, finding 56 pangolins in the trunk of the vehicle, before confiscating the animals. After being assessed at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources – Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the confiscated animals were identified as Sunda pangolins.

At noon August 14, 2015, government officers of the FPD Ha Trung, Thanh Hoa province and Nga Son District’s Police Force officially transferred the animals to the CPCP. Most of the pangolins appeared to be in good condition, however, some pangolins have wounds in their head and feet, while others were quite weak. The manner in which the animals had been secured in mesh bags varied, suggesting the animals were not trapped by a single hunter.

Despite being circulated in the trade for up to a week, without access to food and water, one female pangolin was found to have given birth inside the mesh bag in which she was transported.

We would like to sat thanks to Son District’s Police Force, police officer of Division number 5, Department number 49 of the Ministry of Public Security and the FDP Ha Trung, Thanh Hoa province for their concentrated effort to confiscate the pangolins, especially their quick action to hand over and transfer the pangolins to the rescue center.

A volunteer traveled 4000 km to help pangolins: Afterthought

Dung - the Volunteer

One week in CPNP with SVW staff taught me that everyone of us has to take action to protect wild animals, even in a small way before it’s too late. I am a young Vietnamese with my friends, other volunteers, committed to raising my voice to protect Vietnamese wonderful nature and animals!

My idol is Jean Jacques Rousseau , a philosopher, who says: “The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences”. Thanks to his inspiration, I always want to take part in as many as social activities that I can, so that I have more opportunities to experience myself. Becoming one of the 114 volunteers for the project “Research and Assess the Reality of Pangolin Trade and Consumption in Vietnam” conducted by Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) and Humane Society International (HSI) is a great chance for me to do that.

To become a volunteer, all of us were trained by SVW staff to be able to interview and find suitable areas across Vietnam to conduct the social surveys. After that, during our summer vacation, our team travelled in both city and countryside to meet and interview local people. In some first days, we found it so hard to persuade them to help us because people worried that they and their families will be in trouble if helping us even we already provided them all the document that prove we are SVW’s volunteers and their personal information will be kept safely. Another difficulty that have challenged us is the weather and the terrain of the interviewed areas, which all take us more time to finish the interview process. However, after interviewing many people, we found that we have to keep meeting people who misunderstood about pangolins to provide them the exact information about this incredible animal.

Time flew and the last interview was conducted, announcing that it’s time to say goodbye everyone and the new semester starts at school. We all remember the happy time we have together, sharing the same mission — to protect pangolins!

My love of pangolins was bigger during the summer. I also wanted to help out the SVW staff so I decided to travel from Can Tho city to Cuc Phuong Nationa Park (CPNP), Ninh Binh to input data for a week. A week working with SVW staff was so wonderful. Besides working in the office, I was shown around the rehabilitation centre to take care of the animals in the nighttime. I watched by my own eyes the pangolin mum and pup hang around to looking for food, Mr.B the binturong climb in high branches and jump from trees to trees, from which I understand the hard work that SVW is doing at CPCP.

Nearly 1000 pledges to save pangolins

Environmental festival

We attended an environmental festival in Hanoi hosted by Boo Environment. The event, which attracted over 6,000 young Hanoians, encouraged festivalgoers to help save pangolins, take care of nature, whilst raising the profile of current wildlife and environmental issues.

One of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife’s goals in attending the event was to raise the profile of the pangolin and empower people to take action to conserve the species. Festivalgoers were invited to view a short video on the plight of pangolin which was looped on video-screen, offered pangolin-themes postcards and leaflets. Nearly 1000 young Hanoians answered the call to fight for pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammal signing their name on pledge-boards and committing to act to protect one of their country’s most incredible animals.

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife created an interactive information booth displaying informational graphics, posters, video footage, and fielded many questions from people interested in contributing to saving Vietnam’s precious wildlife. Thousands of people stopped by, with nearly two thousand wildlife postcards, posters, and calendars given out to festivalgoers. Particularly popular were Save Vietnam’s Wildlife stickers (spotted on proud faces and arms throughout the event) and games designed to get contestants thinking about wildlife identification and threats.

The attendance at Boo Environment’s festival, as well as the response to Save Vietnam’s Wildlife presence by festivalgoers was heartening, and further spreads the message of wildlife conservation in Vietnam.

Training Course for our social research volunteers

training course for volunteers

Thanks to the support from Humane Society International, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife has launched a research on pangolin hunting, trading, and consumption, which is called “Research and Assess the Reality of Pangolin Trade and Consumption in Vietnam”. To help conduct surveys with local people in 15 cities/provinces in Vietnam, we recruited and trained 114 volunteers from across Vietnam.

The volunteers were gathered in three cities, Hue (June 27th), Ho Chi Minh (June 29th), Hanoi (July 5th) for training course focussing on ‘soft skills’, wildlife knowledge and research methodology to be able to work with local people for the surveys.

At the training course, the volunteers learned about Save Vietnam’s Wildlife activities, the wildlife situation in Vietnam, the purpose of the research project, communication skills and photography skills. Hoang The Trung, a student studying at the Forestry University of Vietnam shared: “We have a great time with SVW staff. They taught us many skills that we need to conduct the research and for our future job”.

After training, the volunteers were divided into 15 small groups, each group has a team leader who directly liaises between the group and SVW about the surveys. Questionnaires and other documents were provided to all of them.

These volunteers were selected among nearly 500 initial applicants from many universities and colleges in Vietnam. Their contribution plays a crucial role in the success of the research project that is an important step to creating Vietnam’s Pangolin Action plan and to help identify the target audience for awareness campaigns.

First Owston’s Civet rescued in 14 years

Rescued Civet in 14 years

Since 1995, the CPCP/Save Vietnam’s Wildlife is the only rescue centre which has a successful track record in the rehabilitation and breeding of Owston’s Civets. This is the first rescue of an Owston’s Civet to the CPCP centre since 2002.

The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP), a collaboration between Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) and Cuc Phuong National Park, worked with Xuan Loc – Long Khanh Forest Protection Station (FPS), Dong Nai Province to successfully rescue an Owston’s Civet (Chrotogate owstoni). This is the first rescue of an Owston’s Civet to the CPCP centre since 2002. The individual is now under special care at the CPCP/Save Vietnam’s Wildlife.

This civet was voluntarily handed over by Mr Luu Quang Mat, a local person from Long Khanh, Dong Nai Province. He contacted SVW’s wildlife crime hotline 0978.331.441 directly. According to Mr Luu, he bought two Owston’s Civets in 2014 from a local hunter in Ho Chi Minh City and raised them as pets without knowing the species is prohibited for hunting and trading for commercial purposes. One of the civets had died due to its weakness. After that, he decided to hand over the remaining civet to the rescue centre.

“Fortunately, I could contact Save Vietnam’s Wildlife to get a better solution for this rare species. If I had known about the organisation earlier, another civet would not have died. All I want now is for this civet to recover so that it can be released back into the wild. I believe that the civet is now in good hands”, Mr Luu said.

The Owston’s Civet is one of the rarest civet species in Vietnam. It is classified in group IIB under Decree 32/2006/NĐ-CP and prioritized for protection by the Government. In order to ensure confiscated Owston’s Civets and other wildlife will be transferred to rescue centres, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife conducted an Owston’s Civet Awareness Campaign in late 2014.

Mr Tran Quang Phuong, CPCP Manager, said: “This rescue marks the first result of our campaign in raising public awareness of Owston’s Civet conservation. Also, it motivates the governmental authorities to keep responding on the confiscation of this species and transferring them to rescue centres.” Phuong added: “This individual is in good health. It will greatly contribute to our Owston’s Civet Conservation Breeding Program which is designed to increase the genetic diversity of wild populations”.

“Working with CPCP/Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, we understand that releasing Owston’s Civet straight back into the forests without quarantine and monitoring may harm wild populations. We highly appreciate Mat’s action and will continue to work closely with local communities as well as the rescue centres for further rescue activities in future.” Mr Nguyen Huu Hai from Xuan Loc – Long Khanh FPS, stated. Mr Nguyen Van Thai, Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife added, “Owston’s Civet can carry the Avian Influenza H5N1. Many Owston’s Civets died in 2005 and 2008 due to the Avian Influenza H5N1. Therefore, the animals need to be quarantined with careful health assessment before we can return them back to the wild. Keeping Owston’s Civets as pets or eating them in restaurants may transfer the disease to people”.

Since 1995, the CPCP/Save Vietnam’s Wildlife is the only rescue centre which has a successful track record in the rehabilitation and breeding of Owston’s Civets. If you are in possession of an Owston’s Civet, or have made a sighting, please contact CPCP/Save Vietnam’s Wildlife at 0978.331.441 to give this rare species a better chance of survival.

Conducting the Owston’s civet Awareness Campaign for the first time

Civet Poster Campaign

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of Owston’s civet conservation to ensure confiscated Owston’s civets and confiscated wildlife as well will be transferred to rescue centres. This is the first time an awareness campaign towards Owston’s civet conservation has been conducted in Vietnam. 

The highlighted activity of the campaign that is Save Vietnam’s Wildlife staff travelled approximately 5000 kilometers to visit and directly delivery Owston’s civet posters and calendars to forest rangers of eight central provinces, two national parks and 19 northern provinces in Vietnam including: Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Bach Ma National Park, Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Hung Yen, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh and Ha Noi.

At each ranger stations, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife staffs have shared the situation of conservation and threats of Owston’s civet in particular and Carnivores and Pangolins in general with rangers. The necessary knowledge and skills on how to identify wild animals, how to handle and care for confiscated carnivores and pangolins were also provided to rangers. Besides, the numbers of Pangolin Information Factsheet have been also delivered to all rangers.

Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Executive Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife shared: “There is no Owston’s civets have been transferred to rescue centres in Vietnam for over 12 years. Most confiscated Owston’s civets have been released straight back into the nearest forests without the consideration of quarantine, monitoring, or a viable location for release. They often get auctioned for the legal market. We hope the awareness campaign helps get more attention and action amongst functional authorities and public towards Owston’s civet and wildlife protection”.

The Owston’s civet (Chrotogale owstoni) becomes one of the rarest civet species in Vietnam for many reasons. Due to its largely terrestrial habitats, the Owston’s civet is vulnerable to snare traps, one of the most common hunting methods throughout their home ranges. In addition, this species appears to be in higher demand than other civets due to their beautiful pelt and the large scent glands which are used in traditional medicine. Owston’s civet is classified as a vulnerable species according to both IUCN Red List and Vietnam Red Book.

To date, there are only 19 Owston’s civets in captivity all over the world and all of which are managed by Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) in cooperation with Cuc Phuong National Park. Save Vietnam’s Wildlife has successfully conducted the Owston’s Civet Conservation Breeding Program following which 66 Owston’s civets from 14 rescued and rehabilitated wild individuals have been successfully bred.

Released 14 rehabilitated Common Palm civets

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife worked together with Cuc Phuong National Park to successfully release four Common palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) into Cuc Phuong National Park. This brings the total number of civets that have been released back into the forest to 14 after 10 Common palm civets had been previously released on 15th July.

A common issue with civets from civet farms is the poor conditions they live in. This results in a poor state of health and often severe physical injuries to their tails and ears. With the professional assistance of WCS and AAF veterinarians they received proper care and regained their health prior to release. The remaining civets will be released once they too have reached optimum health.These civets have received five months of rehabilitation at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. They were amongst 18 that were captured for the production of civet coffee by local people in Lam Dong Province since 2011. The owner decided to voluntarily hand over these civets to Lam Dong Forest Protection Department and then they were transferred safely to the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP) of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife in May 2014.

Although Common palm civets are not listed in the Vietnam Red Book, populations of this species are steadily declining in the wild. They are commonly hunted and traded for meat, their musk. and for civet coffee production. To protect this species effective conservation methods need to be applied and wildlife farms are unacceptable option for wildlife conservation in Vietnam.

To understand more about the Civet coffee situation visit here.

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