Vietnam, one of Asia’s biggest consumers of wildlife products, has suspended all imports of wild animal species “dead or alive” and vowed to “eliminate” illegal markets across the country.
The directive signed by the leader of the Communist country follows an international scandal over the sale of wildlife, which has been blamed as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic in neighboring China.
It is a major victory for conservation groups who have in the past accused Vietnamese authorities of turning a blind eye to the rampant trade in endangered species inside and across its borders.
“The prime minister orders the suspension of imports of wildlife – dead or alive – their eggs... parts or derivatives,” said the order released Thursday on the government website.
“All citizens, especially officials... must not participate in illegal poaching, buying, selling, transporting... of illegal wildlife.”
Among the most frequently smuggled animal goods are tiger parts, rhino horn and pangolins used in traditional medicine.
Despite the high prices they command – with ingredients trafficked from as far as Africa – there is no scientific evidence of their health benefits in humans.