A century ago an estimated 100 000 tigers roamed the forest, swamps and tundra of Asia. Today there are less than 4 000 left in the wild. Tigers inhabited a large range throughout Asia, from Turkey in the west to the eastern coast of Russia. Over the past 100 years tigers have disappeared from most of these areas. They now inhabit less than 6% of their historic range.
Tigers are found mainly in the forests of tropical Asia, although they historically occurred more widely in drier and colder climes. Availability of a sufficient prey base of large ungulates is the Tiger's major habitat requirement. Wild pigs and deer of various species are the two prey types that make up the bulk of the Tiger's diet, and in general Tigers require a good population of these species in order to survive and reproduce.
The Indochinese Tiger is native to Viet Nam and is considered endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Decline in numbers is pushing the Indochinese Tiger close to extinction, approaching the threshold for critically endangered. It is estimated that as few as 250 remain alive in the wild. In Viet Nam, it is possible that there is no breeding population remaining. Tigers have not been photographed by camera trap since 1997.
Any population of Indochinese tigers in Viet Nam would most likely be found in the Northern Annamite area of central Viet Nam. Close to the border with Laos.
Consumer demand for tiger parts and habitat loss pose the largest threat to tiger survival. Tigers are being hunted to extinction by poachers for their skins, bone, teeth and claws, which are highly valued for their use in traditional Asian medicine or for aesthetic purposes such as jewellery.
Tiger bone production and use is illegal in all countries however the use of tiger products has not decreased in popularity. In 2008, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) adopted a decision stating that “Tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives”.
The demand for tigers is not unique; Viet Nam has emerged in the last decade as a major illegal consumer of many species of wildlife and as a key middleman in the illegal trade to China. Growing domestic consumer markets combined with the country’s recent shift to market-oriented economic policies has provided ideal conditions for the rapid growth of the illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam.
What do we do?
WCS Viet Nam work at a high level with the Vietnamese authorities to build capacity and shape policy which enables effective oversight of illegal wildlife trade activities.
We build intelligence on crime syndicates, locations of illegal wildlife sale/production, smuggling routes which can help local law enforcement agencies with their investigations and arrests.
In December 2015 WCS provided evidence to local police in Ho Chi Minh City to investigate an illegal wildlife trafficker smuggling endangered animals such as tigers, oriental small clawed otters and black shanked doucs to sell to the pet trade in Viet Nam. WCS conducted online monitoring of the sales of endangered wildlife and began physical surveillance to build a case against the individual. WCS worked with police to perform the crackdown. The individual was sentenced to five years imprisonment for their involvement.
We undertake broad scale projects to increase understanding of the issues associated with the illegal trafficking of wildlife and wildlife parts and increase knowledge on the risks associated with the trade.
Sanderson, E., Forrest, J., Loucks, C., Ginsberg, J., Dinerstein, E., Seidensticker, J., Leimgruber, P., Songer, M., Heydlauff, A., O'Brien, T., Bryja, G., Klenzendorf, S., Wikramanayake, E. (2006). The Technical Assessment: Setting Priorities for the Conservation and Recovery of Wild Tigers: 2005–2015. WCS, WWF, Smithsonian, and NFWF-STF, New York and Washington, DC, USA.
Lynam, A.J. & Nowell, K. 2011. Panthera tigris ssp. corbetti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T136853A4346984. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 07 July 2017.