Tiger population hits crisis point

HA NOI - Just 30 wild tigers survive today in Viet Nam out of 3,200 across the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The WWF said there were 100 wild tigers in Viet Nam 10 years ago.

The conservation body said the number of tigers across the world had decreased by 97 per cent since 1900.

The main reason for the diminishing tiger population was deforestation, said Do Quang Tung, deputy director of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Viet Nam.

The growing human population had also put pressure on tiger numbers, he added, as had illegal hunting and trafficking.

Meanwhile, Nick Cox, WWF's manager of protected areas, species and wildlife trade, said Viet Nam was a trade hub for tiger products, while illegal medicines made from tiger bones had become increasingly popular

"It's very important at the moment to halt the illegal international tiger trade and domestic consumption of tigers," Cox said.

Keshav Varma, programme director of Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), said the continuous demand for tiger parts and the surge in illegal smuggling were totally unacceptable.

He said if things continued going as they were, the last remaining tigers in Indo-China would be wiped out within a few years.

Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, deputy head of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's Bio-diversification Conservation Department, said Viet Nam, in a bid to save tigers in the wild, had participated in Global Tiger Initiative forums.

Viet Nam and 12 other countries had made a historic commitment to eradicating poaching and the illegal trade in wild tigers at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit last November, she said.

CITIES' Tung added that a US$50 million national programme on tiger conservation had been set up with the aim of doubling the numbers of animals in the wild in Viet Nam by 2020.