A century ago, an estimated 100,000 tigers roamed in a large range of forest, swamps, and tundra throughout Asia. Today there are less than 4,000 left in the wild. 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 such as wild pigs, deer, etc. is the tiger's major habitat requirement to survive and reproduce.
There are nine tiger subspecies in the world, and all are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1986. Viet Nam is home to the Indochinese Tiger subspecies (Panthera tigris corbetti), which also lives in Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and southwestern China. The remarkable decline in numbers is pushing the Indochinese Tiger close to extinction, approaching the threshold for critically endangered. It is estimated that less than 250 of this subspecies remain in the wild. In Viet Nam, tigers have not been photographed by camera trap since 1997.
Although all countries have banned use and manufacture of tiger bone, illegal production persists in several Asian countries, especially in China, Malaysia, and Viet Nam. Consumer demand for tiger parts and habitat loss pose the most significant 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 aesthetic purposes such as jewelry.
Growing domestic and international consumer markets combined with the country’s shift to market-oriented economic policies has provided ideal conditions for the rapid growth of the illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam. Viet Nam has emerged in the last decade as one of the major illegal consumers of many wildlife species and as a key middleman in the illicit trade to China. Seizures statistics have proved that in many cases, tigers have been sourced within Viet Nam (e.g., tiger farms) and neighboring countries like Lao PDR and Thailand for domestic consumption or trafficked to a more significant market in China.
What are we doing?
WCS Viet Nam works with the Vietnamese government agencies to build capacity and inform policy which enables effective oversight of wildlife trade activities. We conduct research on crime syndicates, locations of illegal wildlife sale/production, smuggling routes which can help local law enforcement agencies with their investigations and arrests.
We work closely with law enforcement agencies at national and local level including police and ranger and provide them technical assistance such as intelligence, species identification, legal advices to target to high-level criminal wildlife trafficking network.
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.