Men arrested for cooking tiger skeleton in central Vietnam

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A tiger skeleton confiscated from two men who were about to cook it in the central province of Thanh Hoa on October 17

Police in the central province of Thanh Hoa said Thursday they had arrested two men for possessing a tiger skeleton illegally, just before they were about to cook the bones down into a "medicinal:" paste.

Tran The Thu, 48, and Dinh Van Kien, 44, were busted at Thu's house in Thanh Hoa Town with the skeleton one day earlier, Vietnamnet news website reported.

Police also confiscated tools and materials used for cooking the tiger bones into paste, which is usually used as a painkiller in Chinese medicine. It is also considered a tonic by many people.

The suspects told police that they bought the skeleton for nearly VND250 million (US$11,800) and planed to sell the paste product, according to the news report.

Police are investigating.

Categorized as endangered, tigers are protected from commercial exploitation activities under Vietnamese laws. Violators could be fined up to VND500 million ($23,700) and sentenced to seven years in prison

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However, despite the local and international efforts to protect the species, tigers are still poached and traded in Vietnam.

In fact, the latest case in Thanh Hoa was the third reported this month. Earlier, on October 13 and 16, two tiger carcasses one frozen and the other freshly killed were confiscated in two different cases in Thanh Hoa and Hanoi.

A local conference at the end of last year reported that the country had fewer than 50 wild tigers left, and they were scattered along the country's border in the central region.

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