Thousands of cats buried alive in Vietnam

Shutterstock [http://www.shutterstock.com]

Hanoi - Vietnamese authorities have buried thousands of seized cats -- many believed to have been alive at the time -- after the felines were smuggled from China to feed the nation's illegal cat meat trade.

A truck containing three tons of live cats crammed into bamboo crates was impounded last Tuesday in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, with police initially undecided how to deal with the animals.

But on Wednesday a police officer told AFP they had been buried in accordance with Vietnamese law on smuggled goods.

"The cats were from China, with no official origin papers and no quarantine," a policeman from the Dong Da district environmental police said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Several of them had died, there was a terrible smell that could affect the environment and carried risks of future diseases," he said.

"Therefore, we culled them by burying them," he said, declining to confirm how many were alive at the time of burial.

Animal protection groups, who pleaded in vain for the cats to be spared, fear many of the creatures were alive when they were buried.

Other smuggled animals, including chickens, are routinely disposed of in a similar way.

The Asian Canine Protection Alliance, a regional coalition of animal rights groups, said it had heard "inhumane stories as to how the [cats] may have been destroyed."

"Our request for any visual evidence of their fate has been denied," the group said in a statement Wednesday, calling for the "practice of inhumane killing of trafficked animals", to be stopped.

Delicacy

Photographs of the cats crammed into dozens of bamboo crates stacked on top of one another prompted widespread calls for the felines' lives to be spared.

One petition on change.org urging Vietnamese authorities "to change their animal handling policies" had garnered more than 23 000 signatures from across the world by Wednesday.

Cat meat, known locally as "little tiger", is a delicacy in Vietnam, and although officially banned it is widely available in specialist restaurants.

Vietnam has long banned its consumption in an effort to encourage cat ownership and keep the country's rat population under control.

But there are still dozens of restaurants serving cat in Hanoi and it is rare to see cats roaming the streets -- most pet-owners keep them indoors or tied up fearing they could be stolen.

Such is the demand from restaurants that cats are sometimes smuggled across the border from China, Thailand and Laos.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Who do you think is going to win the 2020 US election?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Biden is going to take it
46% - 6014 votes
It's four more years for Trump
54% - 7101 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.30
(+0.85)
ZAR/GBP
21.35
(-0.17)
ZAR/EUR
19.32
(+0.73)
ZAR/AUD
11.58
(+0.17)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.07)
Gold
1923.80
(+0.72)
Silver
25.10
(+1.52)
Platinum
893.00
(+2.52)
Brent Crude
43.05
(+1.28)
Palladium
2395.00
(+0.71)
All Share
55195.30
(-0.14)
Top 40
50770.62
(-0.16)
Financial 15
10064.55
(+1.09)
Industrial 25
74718.88
(-1.12)
Resource 10
54098.79
(+0.58)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo