Many precious Vietnamese herbs have been driven to the edge of extinction by increased smuggling to China while deforestation is exterminating Vietnam's wild tiger population, the environment ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry, known officially as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said in a biodiversity report that the illegal exploitation of many wild flora and fauna species is threatening to destroy them all and put "serious" pressure on other biological groups.
It said the wild tiger population in Vietnam is threatened by inbreeding as there're only fewer than 50 of them now and they are living in small groups scattered in poor quality forests, mostly in central Vietnam's border areas.
The population was more than 100 ten years ago.
Many herbs with pharmaceutical effects found in the northern highlands, including indigenous species, have been overly exploited for smuggling to China, the report said.
Victims include binh voi (Stephaniae glabrae) whose tuber can work as a sedative, curing stress and sleeplessness, and can also be used to treat Gout; and giao co lam (Gynostemma pentaphyllum, or jiaogulan) a vine of the gourd family reputed for its powerful antioxidant and adaptogenic effects that reduce blood glucose, bad cholesterol and keep blood pressure in normal range. It is also said to increase longevity.
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