The handling of illegally captured wallabies in Cao Bang has created confusion.
The wallabies, not native to Vietnam, can’t be released into the environment, and the state’s rescue center has limited resources for their lifelong care. Authorities found a fourth wallaby on November 11, abandoned by wildlife traffickers.
While awaiting source verification, the wallabies are temporarily kept in Thach An District’s Forestry Inspection. Cao Bang’s forestry authorities are uncertain how to deal with these creatures as they aren’t permitted in Vietnam, and information about them is scarce.
Experts suggest these wallabies, originating from Australia, aren’t invasive species. According to Regulation No. 29/2019 from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, options for handling forest animals include releasing them into the natural environment, rescue, transfer to zoos or research facilities, selling, or disposal.
However, since the wallabies are non-native, releasing them into the natural environment is prohibited. They are healthy, not showing signs of disease, making rescue or disposal inappropriate.
Animal rescue specialists emphasize caution if transferring them to the rescue center in Lao Cai, to prevent cross-infection. Asian Animal Organization recommends against releasing non-native animals into the wild.
State rescue centers in Vietnam lack resources, making it challenging to care for additional species. The suggestion is to place the wallabies in a safari wildlife park rather than burdening already stretched rescue centers.
Despite being prohibited in Vietnam, wallabies have entered the country through unofficial channels in recent years, sold for ornamental purposes, and bred by some farms.
A wallaby is a small or middle-sized macropod native to Australia and New Guinea, with introduced populations in New Zealand, Hawaii, the United Kingdom and other countries. They belong to the same taxonomic family as kangaroos and sometimes the same genus, but kangaroos are specifically categorised into the four largest species of the family. The term “wallaby” is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or a wallaroo that has not been designated otherwise.