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.
Illegal hunting for tiger body parts and habitat loss are the biggest threats to the species’ survival. Tigers are being hunted to extinction for their skin, bones, teeth and claws, which are used in traditional medicine or to make jewelry. 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.
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. Seizure statistics have proved that in many cases, tigers have been sourced within Viet Nam (e.g., tiger farms) and other countries like Laos PDR, Thailand, Malaysia, etc.
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.
At the same time, we also conduct research and supervision of epidemics in wildlife and the possibility of disease transmission between people and wildlife.
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 advice to target high-level criminal networks.
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.