Vietnam tiger farm in violations

28 July, 2009


Vietnam tiger farm in violations

Three private breeding farms for wild animals in the southern province of Binh Duong have failed to meet required technical and safety standards, inspectors have found.

The registration certificates of these farms had also expired, provincial inspectors said after carrying out checks on Dai Nam Zoo Co. Ltd., Thai Binh Duong Beer Company and Thanh Canh Enterprise.

The three companies, which run zoos and collect entrance fees from the public to view the animals, have a total of 53 tigers, making the province the country’s leading locality in breeding the endangered species.

Inspectors found Dai Nam Zoo Co. Ltd. raising 13 tigers although they had registered for seven.

In total, the company was found raising 583 wild animals belonging to 71 species although its [expired] registration permits just 294 animals of 27 species.

Dai Nam had designed the cages properly for the different species and had veterinarians to take care of them. However, the company did not record its breeding and raising methods or the measures being taken to ensure stable reproduction of the animals under captive conditions.

The same violations were also found at the Thai Binh Duong Beer Company that had registered to raise 721 wild animals of eight species. Inspectors found the company was raising two unregistered wild animals but it was not clear which species they belonged to.

Tigers at this farm had given birth to 15 young ones but 11 of them died due to in-breeding, the inspectors found.

The farm should reinforce its cages to ensure absolute safety for humans as it is located among residential areas, inspectors said.

They also found that the Thanh Canh Enterprise was raising nine tigers without informing concerned agencies regularly about their health. They also found that the bars on cages were not close enough to ensure human safety.

One tigress at Thanh Canh’s farm had given birth to a young that died soon after, inspectors said, adding none of the companies had declared clearly their purpose for breeding wild animals.

Tran Van Nguyen, deputy head of Binh Duong park rangers, said the agency had suggested to higher authorities that the registration is extended for the three companies.

He also said the companies would not be allowed to raise the animals for commercial purposes, noting that Vietnam has signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1994 and joined the International Tiger Coalition.

An official from the inspection team said they had requested the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to instruct the park rangers to tag the tigers with microchips for better management.

“I wonder why the Forest Protection Department has not attached microchips on the tigers,” he said. “Without this, the breeder can secretly trade the animal after concealing their reproduction.”

On July 16, two men were arrested while transporting a dead tiger from a central province to Hanoi.

Hoang Van Su and taxi driver Nguyen Trung Phong were found with a 60-kilogram frozen tiger and 11 kilograms of tiger bones in the trunk of the latter’s cab.

Police said Su had hired Phong to carry the tiger and bones from the central province of Thanh Hoa to a buyer in Hanoi.

Dr. Pham Trong Anh, an expert from the Hanoi-based Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, said the tiger was a baby of about 4-5 months. He said the bones belonged to at least two different tigers.

It was unclear what the tigers had died of and whether they were wild or taken from illegal farms.

In Vietnam, tigers are only found along the Truong Son Mountain Range in the central region. Experts estimate the country has less than 200 tigers left, as most have been wiped out to make traditional medicine.

Tiger bones are believed to have aphrodisiac properties by many countries in the Far East and Southeast Asia.

Too risky

Early this month, the World Bank told a key international meeting on wildlife trade that experimenting with tiger farming is too risky and could drive wild tigers further toward extinction.

“Extinction is irreversible, so prudence and precaution suggest that the risks of legalized farming are too great a gamble for the world to take,” World Bank Director Keshav Varma told the member countries of the 58th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Standing Committee on July 9.

Because of the unpredictability of the market environment and the small number of remaining tigers in the wild, there is “no room for experimentation,” Varma, who leads the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative, said after the meeting.

“Commercial trading in tiger parts and its derivatives is not in the interest of wild tiger conservation.”

“Given the unpredictability of the market environment along with the fact that there are only 3,500 tigers in the wild, there is no room for experimentation,” Varma told the International Tiger Coalition (ITC).

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) later endorsed the World Bank’s call for countries to ban tiger farming because of the uncertainty that it will have for the long-term conservation of wild tigers.

“Stopping all trade in tiger parts, and phasing out these tiger farms, is of the utmost urgency if the tiger is to survive in the wild,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of the species program at WWF International.

“It is time for the world community to join together, with tiger range state governments, to stop all poaching of tigers for illegal trade, and WWF welcomes the engagement of the World Bank in these efforts,” she said.

Reported by Quang Thuan

Story from Thanh Nien News
Published: 28 July, 2009