Vietnam 5th in tiger seizure, study finds

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Vietnamese authorities have seized parts belonging to 28 tiger seizures in the last decade, a recent study found.

The study, titled "Reduced to Skin and Bones" was released by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC on Tuesday (November 9). It considered the recovery of parts belonging to more than a thousand tigers between January 2000 and April 2010.

The seizures were made in 11 of 13 tiger range countries, according to TRAFFIC.

Parts of between 104 and 119 animals were seized, annually, by wildlife authorities, according to the analysis. The numbers are not precise because the investigators often recovered skins, bones and claws.

In their most conservative estimate, TRAFFIC reported that at least 1,069 tigers had been trafficked during the ten year period.

A vast majority of these seizures took place in India (276 seizures), followed by China (40 seizures), Nepal (39 seizures), Indonesia (36 seizures) and Vietnam (28 seizures).

TRAFFIC estimates that the numbers of undetected cases are significantly higher.

Seizures in Vietnam and Thailand consisted mostly of whole corpses. Authorities in China, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia also seized a comparatively high amount of dead tigers in trade.

In many cases, the arrests and seizures do not lead to significant punishment.

Vietnam's 27 arrests for tiger trade crimes resulted in just four convictions. Their sentences ranged from 16 to 24 months, according to figures compiled by Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) Vietnam's first nongovernmental organization to focus on conservation.

It is estimated that less than 30 tigers remain in the wild in Vietnam.

Mike Baltzer, leader of the environmental group WWF, told AFP that the report "demonstrates that the illegal tiger trade has continued despite considerable and repeated efforts to curtail it by many governments and organizations."

The WWF warned last month that tigers could become extinct within 12 years. The conservation group estimates that the number of big cats has plunged 97 percent from a century ago. According to figures, there were 100,000 tigers in the world at the turn of the 20th century; now, there are only 3,200 left in the world.

Russia is scheduled to host a "summit" of the 13 so-called tiger-range countries in Saint Petersburg on November 21-24.

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