AboutZoos, Since 2008


Tiger cen­sus Viet­nam: fewer than 50 left in the wild

pub­lished 30 Decem­ber 2011 | mod­i­fied 30 Decem­ber 2011

The rel­e­vance of WWF’s recent call for ele­vated action to end poach­ing — the main cause of the tiger’s decline — can­not be stressed more pro­foundly as by the lat­est news from Vietnam.

One year after the Tiger Sum­mit in St. Peters­burg the num­ber of wild tigers in Viet­nam has shrunk to fewer than 50, said Le Xuan Canh, direc­tor of the Viet­nam Insti­tute of Ecol­ogy and Bio­log­i­cal Resource. While a decade ago around 100 tigers roamed the Viet­namese land­scape. Whether or not this is a first out­put of the Hanoi work­shop in August this year on imple­men­ta­tion of mon­i­tor­ing the Global Tiger Recov­ery Plan, the news is depressing.

Mr. Canh blamed poach­ing, the ille­gal wildlife trade, defor­esta­tion and infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment for the dra­matic decline in tiger num­bers. Unfor­tu­nately, there is evi­dence that Viet­nam is a kind of a hub for trade in endan­gered species, which is accom­pa­nied by endemic poaching.

In two unre­lated inci­dents four Viet­namese have been arrested and high num­bers of endan­gered species body parts were con­fis­cated. Two per­sons were arrested on 22nd Decem­ber 2011 in south Africa at Johan­nes­burg Air­port (O.R. Tambo Inter­na­tional) while try­ing to smug­gle rhino horn and ivory out of the coun­try. O.R. Tambo Inter­na­tional Air­port is increas­ingly being used by Viet­namese smug­glers to get ille­gal prod­ucts out of the coun­try. Another two were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City dur­ing a raid by the local police, after the police inter­vened in a sale of a tiger skele­ton between these two men. Included in the items con­fis­cated were 6 lion skele­tons, two tigers skele­tons soaked in wine, a tigers head, a bear skele­ton, 6 pairs of bull horns, a rhino horn, 4 pairs of ele­phant tusks, 3 ele­phant tails, and 5 kilo­grammes of mon­key bones. It shows how big an impact a few peo­ple can have on species that under threat.

With the Javan Rhino in Viet­nam as an exam­ple — it has recently been declared extinct in the wild -, these find­ings are a bad omen for many other species. It may lead to extinc­tion of many other species in the next decade, includ­ing ani­mals such as the tiger and the elephant.

Imme­di­ate action is nec­es­sary. Poach­ing should be made not prof­itable by increas­ing the prob­a­bil­ity of detec­tion and prison sen­tence. In addi­tion, microchips should be implanted in wild tigers and tiger pro­tec­tion zones should be estab­lished in national parks, accord­ing sci­en­tists at a meet­ing organ­ised by the Viet­namese Depart­ment of For­est Man­age­ment this week.

Fur­ther­more, reduc­tion of the demand for tigers and their parts is essen­tial, because that is presently fuelling the poach­ing. This requires edu­cat­ing peo­ple that many of the med­i­cines and good luck charms made from ani­mals do not work, and there­fore that con­serv­ing species is much more impor­tant than tra­di­tional med­i­cines or hav­ing endan­gered species parts on dis­play as a sta­tus sym­bol. The Viet­namese wildlife organ­i­sa­tion Wildlife at Risk (WAR) focuses on edu­ca­tion of young peo­ple about wildlife con­ser­va­tion with their recently launched trav­el­ling road-​show to 40 sec­ondary schools in Ho Chi Minh City.

(Sources: Viet Nam News, 30.12.2011; Wildlife News, 28.12.2011; WWF, 23.11.2011)

UN Biodiversity decade
WWF Stop Wildlife Crime
Fight for Flight campaign
End Ivory-funded Terrorism
Support Rewilding Europe
NASA State of Flux

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
Fol­low me on: