Major tiger trader behind bars as global tiger meet opens



Posted on 27 March 2011  | 
A tiger farmer suspected of being a major figure in Vietnam’s illegal tiger trade has been arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, dealing a blow to the global tiger parts commerce that is pushing the species to the brink of extinction.

The arrest comes as experts and policymakers from the tiger range countries meet for a status check on ongoing efforts to save the iconic species.

According to Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), Huynh Van Hai, the owner of the Thanh Canh Tourism Park in Binh Duong Province, was arrested by local police for selling tigers out of the back door of his park. Fourteen others, including Hai’s son, were also arrested and sentenced this month, with Hai and two associates also receiving a fine of US $70,000, ENV said on their website.

Strengthening global cooperation
to save tigers

The International Conference on Tiger Conservation, to be held in New Delhi, India starting Monday, will bring together the 13 countries that still contain tigers, including Vietnam, to further cooperation and international efforts to save the tiger from extinction.

“This is the kind of news we need to hear more of as tiger range countries intensify their efforts to save the world’s remaining population,” stated Mike Baltzer, Head of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative.

“If we are to not only save tigers from disappearing, but also increase their numbers, we need work together to improve law enforcement capacities and spur the authorities into action. We congratulate the Vietnamese authorities and their partners for this major success, and we look for stronger law enforcement to be on the agenda for this week’s conference.”

The New Delhi conference is the first international follow up to the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), a groundbreaking agreement forged in November 2010 by the tiger countries and the international community at a Tiger summit hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is expected to tackle GTRP implementation and monitoring, as well as reveal new tiger population estimates for India, which contains around half of world’s remaining tiger population, estimated to be as low as 3,200 individuals. The GTRP has set a goal of doubling the world’s tiger population by 2022.

Black market in tigers and tiger parts


The demand for tigers and their parts is in part fueling the tiger’s recent rapid decline. According to ENV, the bones from one tiger have a value of USD $20,000. Since 2005, there have been 24 reported seizures of tigers, their parts and bones in Vietnam.

Wild tiger population at an all time low


As the New Delhi conference convenes, the tiger population is at an all time low. Estimated to be around 100,000 just 100 years ago, tigers have declined 97 percent, losing more than 94 percent of their home range. In addition to poaching and the illegal trade, the remaining pockets of tigers are beset by conflict with an increasing human population, habitat loss and prey loss.

Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is only found in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
© CK Wong Enlarge

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