From South Africa to Vietnam: Rhinos and Tigers [Photos]

Entrance at Bao Son Paradise Theme Park, Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo © Annamiticus

Are some of South Africa’s wildlife breeders selling rhinos and tigers to questionable facilities?

One such facility is the Bao Son Paradise Theme Park in Hanoi, Vietnam, where two Asian elephants are imprisoned by short chains — an indication that perhaps the animal husbandry practices are substandard.

An Asian elephant chained to cement at Bao Son zoo in Hanoi. Photo © Annamiticus

During a wildlife trade monitoring visit to this zoo in November 2012, four white rhinos were seen, along with two tigers and two white tigers, several hyenas, two cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, various monkeys and tropical birds.

Four white rhinos exported from South Africa to Bao Son zoo in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo © Annamiticus

Concrete is underfoot in most of the rhino pen, where a closed circuit camera watches overhead.

The rhino enclosure at the Bao Son zoo is mostly concrete underfoot. Photo © Annamiticus

Two tigers — apparently imported from wildlife breeders in South Africa — pace back and forth in a small enclosure.

Tigers pace in an enclosure at Bao Son zoo in Hanoi. Photo © Annamiticus

According to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, at least two wildlife breeding facilities supplied tigers and rhinos to Vietnam.

Earlier this year, the Department published the names of the tiger exporters (download the list) and rhino exporters (download the list) on its website. (Update 07/10/2013: The documents have been removed from the DEA website.)

At least two of the tigers at Bao Son zoo were imported from wildlife breeders in South Africa. Photo © Annamiticus

Although CITES allows the export of live animals “to appropriate and acceptable destinations”, this situation suggests that the wildlife breeders in South Africa who chose to sell their animals to a Vietnamese zoo also chose not to conduct any due diligence prior to the transactions.


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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.