Vietnamese police arrest three tiger smugglers

Vietnamese police arrest three tiger smugglers

Asia-Pacific News
Jul 16, 2009, 8:16 GMT

Hanoi – Hanoi police have arrested three men who were found illegally transporting a disemboweled tiger carcass and a tiger skeleton, a police official said Thursday.

‘It took us about a month to bust this case,’ said Tran Quang Cuong of Hanoi’s Environmental Police Agency, which arrested the men as they were transporting the tigers in their car. He said they confessed their crimes.

Police identified the three men involved in the case as Hoang Van Su, 36, the owner of the tiger carcass, Nguyen Trung Phong, the car’s driver and Su’s friend who accompanied him to transport the tigers from central province of Thanh Hoa to sell to his contact in Hanoi.

The disemboweled tiger carcass, weighing some 60 kilograms, had been frozen. A package containing 11 kilograms of tiger skeleton was also recovered.

Cuong said the evidence was sent to the Soc Son Wildlife Rescue Centre, near Hanoi.

Doctor Pham Trong Anh of the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources said the tigers are native to East Asia and Southern Asia and are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union.

Dan Tri Newspaper on Thursday said a kilogram of fresh-frozen tiger meat costs about 20 million dong (1,130 dollars).

Tiger bones and other parts are often used in traditional Vietnamese medicine. ‘Tiger paste’ – made from boiling the bones of the tiger and said to restore the bones of the elderly – can sell for as much as 5,000 dollars a kilogram on the black market.

Less than 100 of the cats are believed to survive in the wild in Vietnam, where habitat loss and poaching have taken a heavy toll on endangered flora and fauna in recent decades.

According to Vietnamese law, those hunting, transporting or trading in rare animals are subject to a prison term of up to seven years and a cash fine of up to 1,250 dollars.

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