The government faces many difficulties in dealing with illegal wildlife that is confiscated from the illegal trade. Confiscated animals are often released back into the wild, placed in rescue centers or zoos, or auctioned off and end up back in the trade.
While releasing animals back into nature is often assumed to be the best choice for confiscated wildlife, in many cases, it is not appropriate to release animals back into nature where they may have little chance to adapt and survive in their new habitat or their introduction may have negative consequences on native wildlife and the local ecosystem.
Placement of confiscated wildlife at rescue centers or zoos is the preferred choice for endangered wildlife where the animals can be cared for by professionals. However, rescue centers and zoos are limited in space, and thus can only care for a portion of the animals that are confiscated.
Another common choice exercised by local authorities is the auctioning off of wildlife back into the trade whereby the local authorities serve merely as “middlemen tax collectors” in the trade of wildlife from forest to market. This option is widely considered to promote further demand for wildlife and illegal trade, as well as puts the authorities tasked with wildlife protection in the conflicting role of selling the wildlife they are responsible for protecting.
In more recent years, owners of illegal bears and other endangered wildlife that is fully protected under the law have been fined and allowed to keep animals that they obtained illegally. This practice has a significant negative impact on wildlife by failing to adequately punish people who keep protected species by confiscating the animals, and thus failing to establish an effective deterrent that might prevent others from obtaining and keeping illegal wildlife.
All of these “current practices” suggest that there is no simple solution for dealing with confiscated wildlife. The latter two solutions (auctioning and allowing owners to keep illegal animals) encourage further demand and trade and therefore are considered detrimental to conservation and protection of wildlife.
However, releasing animals is only an option under certain circumstances, and rescue centers and zoos can only receive limited numbers of animals before they fill up. What other options exist for authorities?
Another option that is used in some countries is “euthanasia” which means “a good death” in Greek. This solution involves a qualified veterinarian freeing an animal from pain and suffering by permanently putting the animal to sleep.
Euthanasia is regarded as a humane solution, when compared with selling wildlife back to traders, which ultimately ends up slaughtered and in the cooking or living the remainder of its days in often poor condition in a cage.
However, the concept of euthanizing confiscated wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild or placed at a rescue center or zoo is new to Vietnam. In order to gauge public opinion on the issue, Education for Nature Vietnam has launched a new online survey. The informal survey is set up on ENV’s Vietnamese-language website (www.thiennhien.org) and includes six questions, taking approximately three minutes to complete.
ENV will publicize the results of the survey on the website on approximately January 1, 2011.
Check out this link to see the new page and join in the survey.