Illegal hunting threatens Vietnam’s wild porcupines30/08/2010 13:23:57
Seen as a delicacy in South East Asia
August 2010: Wild porcupines are coming under threat in Vietnam due to illegal hunting.
Research from the University of East Anglia has shown that the consumption of the South East Asian porcupine as a speciality food is having a devastating effect on wild populations.Overhunting has been cited as the porcupine's greatest threat, and the 1990s saw a fifth of the population wiped out.
While commercial farming of porcupines has become more popular, and is actively encouraged by South East Asian governments, illegal hunting still goes on.
Farming making things worse not better
High price paid by restaurants is encouraging poaching
Only half of the farmers interviewed were registered. Further admissions included illegally using wild porcupines as founder stock, laundering wild animals to sell across the country, capturing wild porcupines and registering them as births, and replacing sick and injured animals with those from the wild.
Emma Brooks said: ‘Four farms which were willing to talk openly, reported trading almost 1000 wild porcupines each year, predominantly to other farms as founder stock. With the increase in demand for founder stock, the incentives to continue the illegal trade are considerable.'
Could be just the tip of the iceberg
Supplying luxury urban market
‘Wild meat in Vietnam supplies a luxury urban market and as such commands a high value. It is likely that these species will continue to be hunted from the wild as long as populations do not diminish so much as to become unprofitable to the hunters.
‘However well the farms are managed, as long as there is consumer demand for porcupine products, without serious disincentives for hunters, hunting of the wild populations will continue. Monitoring and enforcement of these farms and the restaurants is inadequate and needs to be addressed to ensure the protection of wild porcupine populations.
‘While commercial farming of the porcupine is having a detrimental effect, it is still quite a common species. It would be very valuable to research the implications for more threatened species that are also commercially farmed,' she added.