Bird trade escalating in Vietnam: study

Vietnam’s sizeable trade in wild birds is going unchecked and could harm wild populations if not managed, a new study by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC warns.

The wild bird trade is popular in Vietnam (Photo:

The wild bird trade is popular in Vietnam (Photo:

Some 8,047 birds belonging to 115 species were offered for sale in the country’s largest cities, Hanoi and HCM City.
Of the thousands of birds observed recently, over 99 percent were of species native to Vietnam, while regulations governing the trade exist for only 771 (10 percent) of the total: indeed, nine of the 10 most abundant species recorded during the survey were not subject to any trade controls under Vietnamese legislation.
“The survey findings are consistent with a thriving demand for native birds within Vietnam,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, said.
“However, as trade in most of the species seen is not regulated by law, it means large numbers of birds are being extracted with no oversight of sustainability or how severely it will impact wild populations.”
She said the survey showed a rise in the number of species and individuals for sale since previous studies in 1991, 1998, 2001, and 2008, adding that the numbers, the array of species and large number of immature birds for sale were all a sign of the need for improved monitoring of the trade including regulation of offtake and oversight of any ranching or captive breeding operations.
Scaly-breasted munias (21 percent) and red-whiskered bulbuls (15 percent) were most abundant in the survey, together adding up to around 3,000 individuals. Both are legally tradeable. The latter, popular in the cage-bird trade, was also one of the most abundant species previously recorded by TRAFFIC in the Singapore and Bangkok bird markets.
The report recommends improved monitoring and regulation of the harvest and trade of wild caught bird species to ensure they do not negatively affect wild populations.
The authors specifically call for Vietnam’s current legislation to include range-restricted endemic birds and species assessed as globally threatened in the IUCN Red List.
“TRAFFIC stands ready to support Vietnamese authorities in any effort to review and strengthen current regulations,” Madelon Willemsen, head of TRAFFIC’s Vietnam office, said.
“We will continue to provide information on the levels of bird trade in Vietnam. This critical knowledge will help to identify the need and urgency to adjust policies and regulations so that the country meets its international commitments on conserving biodiversity.”
The “Caged in the city: an inventory of birds for sale in Hanoi and HCM City, Vietnam” report marks TRAFFIC’s sixth inventory of notable bird markets in the region, the others being Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, collectively recording 60,000 birds being traded.


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