HANOI – A government ministry proposes confiscating as many as 37 illegally bred tigers in southern Vietnam, state media said on Tuesday, but questions remain about what the government would do with the animals.
Only about 150 tigers survive in the wild in Vietnam, where much of their natural habitat has been destroyed, so releasing them into the wild might not be an option, according to conservationists.
“We have made recommendations to the authorities on how to deal with the tigers, but the issue is fraught with problems,” said Tim Knight, spokesman for the conservation group, Wildlife at Risk, in Ho Chi Minh City.
“From a conservation point of view, keeping them for breeding purposes would be the best thing.”
The reports said the tigers were found in Binh Duong province in districts about 40 km (25 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City. They are being kept privately by individuals and organisations.
The official Vietnam News Agency and newspapers said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had told the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to “work out measures” to deal with the tigers in the province.
They said the ministry “proposed to confiscate all illegally bred tigers and transfer them to authorised organisations to raise in line with the state’s regulations”. It did not say where the animals might be taken.
Breeding tigers in captivity is difficult and the enormous demand in Vietnam and other Asian countries to consume parts of exotic animals for culinary or medicinal purposes threatens many species.
Communist-run Vietnam signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, in 1994, but wildlife groups have criticised the country for inconsistent enforcement.
Story Date: 14/3/2007