Traffic police in the north-central province of Nghe An arrested a man and seized three tiger carcasses from a car traveling up National Highway 1A on Monday (May 28).
Police seized Nguyen Dinh Hai, 23, of Ha Tinh Province's Huong Son District but failed to apprehend his accomplice, who escaped following a harrowing high-speed chase.
The incident began at around 2:30 p.m. when traffic police in Nghe An's Quynh Luu District signaled a car to pull over at a temporary traffic stop.
Lieutenant Tran Si Hung signaled the driver to pull over and authorized his officers to give chase after he ignored the demand.
Hung said the driver led them on a high-speed pursuit, swerving onto National Highway 48, as the pursuing officers fired warning shots.
The car suddenly stopped in Dien Chau District and the driver fled into the woods, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported. Hai was discovered in the car with three frozen tiger carcasses, weighing 320 kilograms in total.
The vehicle also contained four sets of fake license plates, a pry bar and a butcher knife.
Hai told police that a strange man had hired him to help drive a load of "wild boar meat" from Ha Tinh to Nghe An's Quynh Luu District. He insisted that he did not know the vehicle contained a cargo of illicit tiger carcasses.
Police turned Hai and the carcasses over to provincial park rangers for further investigation.
According to the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, the number of wild tigers in Vietnam has rapidly dropped in the past ten years"”from more than 100 to fewer than 50.
During a Vietnam Forest Management Department conference in January, conservationists claimed to have found traces of between 27 to 47 tigers at six reserves and national parks, mostly near the central Vietnam border with Laos.
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.