DAY 289: SPOTTING MY FIRST ILLEGAL PANGOLIN TRADE TRUCK
In one short day I have managed to get some information about the whereabouts of the HQ of asia’s supposed overlord of wildlife trafficking as well as find myself a local guide to take me on my journey into deepest Laos.
When a country is more – how do you say – basic…no that’s wrong, perhaps ‘lawless’, it means its easier to get certain things done . I imagine if a Laotian person came to London and tried to find a guide to help track the movement of cattle from farms it would take a little longer than I did to find the equivalent person out here to help me track the illegal wildlife trade.
The manager of my hotel seemed massively dodgy – I have nothing to back this up other than the appearance of his squint and the way he chewed his toothpick – but sure enough he found me a guide in about ten minutes.
‘Er, do you like animals?’ was my opening question in the short interview I gave my guide before deciding if I coudl trust him with the rather challenging journey we had ahead.
‘Oh yes, and there is a big problem in Laos with the wildlife’
That was it. This guy would have to do. I hinted at what we were about to do and asked if he was comfortable with it and explained that I dind’t want him taking any unnecessary risks. But he seemed genuinely concerned about the wildlife issue in Laos. I will not give him name or show any pictures of him other than tell you his name is Barry and he is 8 foot tall. In other words, neither of those things is true.
Me and Barry found ourselves at the cross roads of two roads where various international traffic routes through Laos meet en route to China.
At the very end of the day, just as I had packed my bag we also saw a truck full of dogs heading to the border.
‘Many many dogs come from Thailand to go to be eaten in Vietnam. Very, very common’ said Barry, matter of factly.