Viet Nam’s Environmental Police dig their claws into illegal big cat trade
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 30th June 2010—Viet Nam’s Environmental Police have confiscated two frozen Tigers and a frozen panther in the central province of Nghe An.
The animals, reportedly along with five kg of suspected Tiger bones, were confiscated from the home of a 53-year old man in Dien Chau district early last week. The suspect was placed under arrest.
The confiscation resulted from a co-ordinated effort between enforcement authorities, including the recently established Environmental Police.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, commended the authorities for their diligence in enforcing Viet Nam’s wildlife laws. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of WWF and IUCN.
“The Environmental Police have demonstrated once again their dedication to halting the illegal trade in protected species such as Tigers,” said Thomas Osborn, Co-ordinator of TRAFFIC’s Greater Mekong Programme.
Despite their protection under Vietnamese and international law, Tigers and panthers continue to be illegally hunted and traded across Viet Nam and Southeast Asia for their meat, as souvenirs, and for their bones, used in traditional medicine and to make Tiger bone wine.
In March this year, Lao Bao Border Guard Police seized a body of a Tiger (95 kg) and a black panther (27 kg) being transported across the border to be sold in Viet Nam. In October 2009, Viet Nam Environmental Police seized 2 frozen Tiger carcasses weighing a total of 130kg and arrested five suspects in Ha Noi.
As few as 30 wild tTigers are estimated to survive in Vietn Nam.
“If we hope to save the country’s remaining Tigers and other threatened species, it will take ever increasing vigilance from authorities and a strong commitment by the government to support and promote existing wildlife laws,” said Osborn.
Tigers have become a global icon for species on the brink of extinction, especially during the current Chinese Year of the Tiger.
With only an estimated 3,200 individuals remaining worldwide, wild Tigers are in danger of disappearing within a decade.
Tigers are particularily in the spotlight during this Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. TRAFFIC, WWF and others are working this year to secure political commitments that will double the number of tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.