Tiger parts found in Vietnam taxi
Police stopped a suspicious looking taxi at the Hoang Cau Stadium in the Dong Da District of the city early Thursday and found a frozen tiger wrapped in several layers of blankets in the trunk, and 11 kgs of tiger limb bones.
Dr. Dang Tat The, an expert at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR), Vietnam’s CITES Scientific Authority, identified the animal and bones as tiger, and speculated that the animal, which weighed 57 kg, was probably a young individual that had been recently killed and that the bones had come from at least two adult tigers.
The tiger likely was transported from Central Vietnam, but it is currently unknown whether the animal originated in Vietnam, or whether it was a wild or captive specimen.
“To complete the police investigation, we call upon the authorities to carry out DNA testing to help determine where these tigers came from,” said Nguyen Dao Ngoc Van, a Senior Projects Officer at the Ha Noi-based office of TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network—a joint programme of WWF and IUCN.
“While the continuing trade in tigers and tiger parts is of great concern, the work of the Environmental Police towards stopping the trade is encouraging and impressive,” Van said. “Although recently formed, the police are quickly improving Vietnam’s capacity to enforce its existing wildlife trade legislation.”
Two other tiger seizures have taken place in Hanoi this year; a January seizure of more than two tonnes of wildlife products from a store in Dong Da district, Hanoi that included six tiger skins, and a February seizure of 23 kgs of frozen tiger parts, also in Dong Da.
“These seizures show us just how serious the threat to Asia’s remaining wild tigers is,” Van said.
Poaching and habitat decline are major threats
Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild, with an estimated population of only about 50 individuals in Vietnam. All six tiger sub-species are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered on IUCN’s Red List. Poaching represents a major threat to the survival of wild tigers. Tiger habitat is also dwindling at an ever increasing rate and that which remains is still unprotected.
"We appreciate the good work of the police in Vietnam in finding smuggled tiger skins and parts, said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Director of the Species Programme, WWF-International. "However, it is critical that protection of tigers by anti-poaching patrols and on-the-ground efforts are greatly increased, so that tigers are not poached in the first place," Dr. Lieberman said.
Tigers are listed in Appendix I of CITES, strictly prohibiting any commercial international trade in them or their derivatives. Although Vietnam is party to CITES, and has banned all domestic trade of tigers, the trade in tigers continues for the use of their bones in traditional medicines, the consumption of their meat as a health tonic and as a status symbol, and the use of their skin for trophy and decorative purposes.
The seizure comes just one week after the World Bank announced it considered any experimentation with tiger farming too risky and could drive wild tigers further toward extinction.