DAY 280: DOGS AWAITING SLAUGHTER WEIGH HEAVY ON MY MIND AS I VISIT RESCUED PANGOLINS IN HANOI
I’ve not slept well.
I’ve been thinking about the remaining three dogs in the restaurant cell, awaiting their end. Is this sloppy British sentimentalism – or reasonable compassion?
I’ve had to leave at 6am to get to Hanoi to see the pangolins before it’s too late. They too are about to perish in the rescue centre after their ordeal enroute to China. This is why I am here. I have to see them.
The four hour journey from jungle to city has me wracked. I want to go back and rescue those dogs – or at least the youngest, the one with the hopeful stare – but at the same time it’s no solution. I have no where to put them and if they are released on to the street they will be caught again. The m0ney will just back into the dog meat treade. They are agressive too…and nervous and likely very sick. And yet I am here to help. Fuck. If I was tougher I would put them on a rope and walk to Hanoi. I am not that man.
Perhaps I should be
I visited the government wildlife ‘rescue centre’ north of Hanoi to see the pangolins – but was only allowed if I took no photos of the pangolins (why I have no idea). A vast concrete complex, empty and parched and sad, like a third world school out of hours. Occasional officials in smart uniforms strutting with communistic pride but otherwise full of echoes and emptiness. Then, far at the back, endless cages, some small, some vast, tuffed full of ‘seized’ wildlife from the trade.
Young tigers, frantic civets, nervous gibbons,wide-eyed Loris, jungle cats, vast birds of prey. Hopelessly out of context in metal cages that stand in the heat. The animals are waiting for something that will never come: release. What will happen to them? These are the so called lucky ones – the ones that have been caught from the traders but I fear for their future. This is no place for the sick animals and I can not imagine that many do well.
Stroking a tiger
I find myself stroking a tiger through the cage. A stupid thing to do but weirdly appropriate for this lawless non-zoo. I guess I want to give some human touch. A gibbon reaches out and tries to grab me with its long arms. It has a baby that is so small that it has escaped the cage and sits on top in new found freedom unsure of where to go next. Go back in to your mother before you grow to big! Or maybe just run….
Then we see the pangolins. Depressing as hell. We walk into a circular concrete building that has around it’s perimeter two rows of cages at floor height. Every single one has a civet inside it – a cat like creature that sells for about $30 on the market for meat – except for two cages that each have a small pangolin inside, rolled up into the inevitable ball on the hard concrete. Even I can see they are emaciated. These are the only two survivors of the 57 that were confiscated on the border of vietnam and china.
Why the hell can’t these go to the proper rescue centre up in Cuc Phuong National Park where I was staying? Paperwork apparently. I ask to see the dead pangolins (7 of the 57 initially survived and were transported down here, 5 then died). But I am not allowed? Why? Why? I fear they have already been sold for meat to restaurants. There are no answers here and I feel short changed.
BACK FOR THE DOGS!
Screw it. I’m going back to the jungle to rescue those dogs. I’ve decided. I’ll find a way. Enough animals in cages. I’m calling the pangolin rescue centre and will ask them to go and stop them being killed. Act first and worry later. There must be a home for them in Hanoi (where they eat dogs…Martin, what are you doing??????)
Will report back…