Ha Noi’s Environmental Police seize frozen Tiger and Tiger bones
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 17th July 2009—Ha Noi’s Environmental Police have seized a frozen Tiger and more than 11 kg of Tiger bones that had been transported from Thanh Hoa Province to Ha Noi via taxi.
Headed by Tran Quang Cuong, the Ha Noi Environmental Police stopped a suspicious looking taxi at the Hoang Cau Stadium in Dong Da District of Ha Noi at 6am on Thursday 16th July.
Upon searching the vehicle, the policemen found a frozen Tiger that had been wrapped in several layers of blankets in the trunk of the car and 11 kg of Tiger limb bones. Three individuals were in the taxi, including the man who claimed ownership over the Tiger.
Dr. Dang Tat The, an expert at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR), Viet Nam’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 Environmental Police believe the Tiger was transported from Central Viet Nam, but it is currently unknown whether the animal originated in Viet Nam 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.
“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,” added Van.
“Although only recently formed, the Environmental Police are quickly improving Viet Nam’s capacity to enforce its existing wildlife trade legislation,” she added.
Two other Tiger seizures have taken place in Ha Noi this year; a January seizure of more than two tonnes of wildlife products from a store in Dong Da district, Ha Noi that included six Tiger skins, and a February seizure of 23 kg 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.
It is believed that fewer than 4,000 Tigers remain in the wild with an estimated population of only about 50 individuals left in Viet Nam. All six 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.
Tigers are listed in Appendix 1 of CITES, strictly prohibiting any commercial international trade in them or their derivatives. However, although Viet Nam 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.