Lax Protection

Despite Threat of Extinction,
Vietnam Plans Tiger Paste Sale

You’ve read here about a summit of 13 nations in Russia last month to discuss their commitment and strategies to protect the wild tiger, said to be facing a serious threat of extinction. Vietnam is among those nations.
But old, misguided cultural habits die much harder than these magnificent animals, it seems. Word just came out that Vietnamese authorities are planning a public auction of approximately six pounds of tiger paste – ground bones and marrow – seized from traffickers.
Local and international conservation groups are, naturally, up in arms against such a bad idea, which undermines the country’s official ban on hunting or trade of wild animals and their products.
But Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture considers the auction perfectly legal and even allows the use of the paste for what it calls medicinal purposes. Conservationists dispute such characterization as unscientific and demand the closing of loopholes in the legislation.
They’re also calling for the seized paste, worth possibly $5,000 a pound, to be destroyed. Vietnam’s food industry has also been the target of conservationist efforts to curb illegal wildlife trade. Recent raids found that many restaurants routinely store meat from bamboo rats, bear paws and porcupines.
Also not long ago, a new species of lizard, called Leiolepis ngovantrii, was identified by scientists from the menu of a restaurant in the Mekong Delta region. Specimens that were ready to be served grilled with salad were found stored in a tank at the popular eatery.

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