Vietnam has fewer than 50 wild tigers left

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Illegal poaching and deforestation have narrowed the wild tiger population in Vietnam to below 50, scattered at national parks and reserves, experts said at a conference Friday.

Dr. Le Xuan Canh, head of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, said at the Vietnam Forest Management Department conference that the number of wild tigers in Vietnam "has been reduced quickly from more than 100 ten years ago to fewer than 50."

The conference assessed a project investigating and surveying wild tigers in custody conditions in Vietnam, news website VnExpress reported.

Surveys have found traces of between 27 to 47 tigers at six reserves and national parks, mostly at the central Vietnam border.

Canh said the population shrinkage was due to poaching and deforestation for fields, which destroyed the habitat of tigers and their prey.

The institute has sent 38 gene samples from the tigers for examination overseas.

Tests showed that the tigers include at least seven Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers; 25 Indochinese or Corbett tigers; and four Indian tigers.

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Experts at the conference suggested concerned authorities take measures to protect tigers, such as attaching surveillance chips to the animal or establishing tiger protective zones.

The global tiger population has plunged 97 percent to around 3,200 tigers in the past century. Experts have warned that tigers could become extinct in 12 years, the report said.

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