Tigers in peril in Vietnam, the world: WWF
Last Updated: Saturday, February 13, 2010 19:14:16 Vietnam (GMT+07)
Vietnam is among the top-10 trouble spots for wild tigers, said the World Wildlife Fund this week as the country prepares to welcome the Year of the Tiger that begins Sunday.
WWF said Vietnamese authorities had seized frozen tiger parts, including two whole frozen tigers, in the Hanoi suburbs in October last year.
There are only around 3,200 tigers left in the wild and their numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss, the illegal animal trade and climate change, the group said in a press release Wednesday.
“Tigers are being persecuted across their range – poisoned, trapped, snared, shot and squeezed out of their homes,” said Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tiger Initiative, according to the press release.
Other trouble spots are:
- Indonesia and Malaysia, where forests are destroyed for pulp, palm oil, paper and rubber
- the Mekong region, where dams and roads will fragment the tiger habitat
- China, where the demand for tiger products are among the highest in the world
- Russia, where massive logging has reduced the habitat for Armur tigers
- Bangladesh, where rising sea levels may reduce the tiger habitat in mangroves by 96 percent
- India, where tigers and humans are coming into more conflicts
- Europe, where the demand for daily ingredients are fuelling forest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia
- Nepal, which is a major crossroads for the illegal trade in tiger skins and bones;
- and the US where legal loopholes can open black market trade in tiger parts.
According to figures in the press release, three tiger sub-species have gone extinct since the 1940s and a fourth one, the South China tiger, has not been seen in the wild in 25 years.
Tigers now lived in 40 percent less land area than they did in the last Year of the Tiger in 1998 and they only occupy 7 percent of their historic range, the release said.
Yet Baltzer expressed hope this year as tiger range countries, conservation groups and organizations such as the World Bank will gather in Russia in September to discuss saving wild tigers.
“There has never been such a committed, ambitious, high-level commitment from governments to double wild tiger numbers. They have set the bar high and we hope for the sake of both the tiger and people that they reach it,” he said.
“Tigers are a charismatic species and a flagship for Asia’s biological diversity, culture and economy.”
All 13 tiger range countries at the first Asian ministerial conference in Thailand last month, including Vietnam, promised to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.
Also, new camera trap photos of a tigress and one of her children obtained in September last year from a forest in Malaysia show that tigers may be able to persist in altered habitats, according to the map.
WWW researchers working in the area have caught the same female tiger on camera several times the last few years but this was the first time she had became a mother.
“This is really encouraging to see a mother with her cub,” said Mark Rayan Darmaraj, senior field biologist of WWF Malaysia. “Such rare photographic evidence of breeding success magnifies the importance of this habitat for tiger conservation in Malaysia.”
Source: Thanh Nien