Helping Hand - Save Vietnam's Wildlife

Jul 26, 2019

Credit courtesy of Nik Lacchin of

This week on Helping Hand it’s Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, a Vietnam nonprofit, founded and run by Vietnamese. While they work to save a number of animals, they’ve earned respect from a number of conservation organizations for their rapid-response rescues and success in rehabilitating pangolins, a highly vulnerable, virtually defenseless mammal being eaten into extinction by consumers in the Asia Pacific. Adding to their desperate circumstance, they are extremely difficult to keep or breed in captivity. There are many ways to help Save Vietnam's Wildlife, including supporting their efforts through donating, volunteering, financially adopting pangolins and spreading the word about the pangolin crisis. HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence spoke with a senior veterinarian from Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Lam Kim Hai, joined for this conversation by an American on their staff, Veterinarian Manager Jessica Jimerson.


Just this week another sobering seizure of pangolin scales was made in Singapore. They are in such a severe crisis the International Union for Conservation of Nature has a special group focused on protecting them and all eight surviving species have the highest level of protection from CITES. Pangolins are an endearing scaled mammal few in the US have heard of, facing unsustainable consumption, primarily by people in China and Vietnam, consumed for their meat and an unproven belief their keratin-based scales have medicinal values. They don’t have teeth, and their only way of defending themselves against predators is curling up in a ball. Effective against all animal threats, this defense mechanism allows poachers to easily prey on them. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, pangolins are the most trafficked mammal on Earth, with more than a million believed to have been killed in the last decade. Vietnam is a gateway to China, and, one of the biggest markets for illegal wildlife products in the world. There is no scientific evidence that pangolin scales or meat have any medicinal or curative properties.

Pangolins are rescued by the Save Vietnam's Wildlife team. Often traffickers fill them with a liquid to make them heavier for market, and then bound them tightly in mesh bags. They are recovered starving, dehydrated and severely traumatized, often on the edge of death.

In this interview, you’ll hear how Save Vietnam’s Wildlife have become a go-to source when live pangolins are seized, and how difficult pangolins are to keep alive in captivity, making their rising rate of poaching and consumption an existential threat. Additionally, hear graphic details of the violent ordeal pangolins are put through and, the rescues this nonprofit conducts to save them; their rapid response teams can be specifically supported. Below are videos and links to videos that show their teams in action helping pangolins. The conversation will detail the many ways to support their efforts, including going to Vietnam as a volunteer, and volunteering remotely from right here in Hawaii, by reposting their social media material (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram) and sharing information about the plight of pangolins. Many supporters pay a fee to visit for a few weeks and volunteer on their staff. On the other hand, some volunteers, considered Professional Volunteers, can have that fee waived in exchange for the expertise they offer. People who are touched by the plight of the pangolin can also financially adopt pangolins in their care. 

One of our guests, Jessica Jimerson, assisting in surgery to save the life of a rescued pangolin.

Contact Save Vietnam's Wildlife:



Find them on FacebookTwitterYoutube and Instagram.

Find all the previous Helping Hand segments.

Learn more about the trafficking of pangolins:

Save Vietnam's Wildlife on the scene rescuing pangolins that were intercepted on their way to markets in Vietnam and China.

A rescued, injured pangolin peeks out from under it's tail after rescue and care by Save Vietnam's Wildlife

On their Facebook page, watch many heartbreaking, yet inspiring rescues they conduct, which gives you an idea of the brutality the pangolins face at the hands of traffickers, and the way they're treated when rescued by Save Vietnam's Wildlife. Here are links to some of the more powerful ones, viewable only on Facebook:

A rescued pangolin, safe in the care of Save Vietnam's Wildlife.