News / Asia

New TV Campaign Aims to Save Vietnam's Wild Tigers

FILE - Two-month-old Indochinese tiger cubs play with their mother inside their cage at the Hanoi Zoo, March 2007.
FILE - Two-month-old Indochinese tiger cubs play with their mother inside their cage at the Hanoi Zoo, March 2007.
Marianne Brown
Conservationists in Vietnam have launched a new public service announcement aimed at tackling the use of tiger paste as an impressive gift. While the move has been widely welcomed, some say it is already too late for the country’s last wild tigers.

“Using tiger bone paste won’t impress anyone, don’t embarrass yourself” - is the message of a new public service announcement released by Vietnamese conservation group Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) this week.

The announcement - to be broadcast on national television - depicts a new corporate board member giving his colleagues gifts of tiger bone paste during a meeting, which they leave on the table in disgust.


"In Vietnam we use tiger bone glue as a kind of gift to give people you want to impress as a form of status symbol.  Approaching television stations is a good way to spread the message to the largest number of people," explained ENV spokeswoman Le Mai Hanh.

Tiger bone paste - a traditional medicine - is made by boiling the bones until they form a glue-like substance. It is used to treat joint problems and is believed to improve sexual performance. The paste can be sold for up to $1500 per 100 grams. Tiger parts are also used to make tiger wine, and are sold as decorations.

ENV has tackled consumption of wildlife products before, but this is one of the first to single out tiger products. The consumption of rare wildlife is rampant in the country. It is known as a destination country for rhino horn, used as a hangover cure. The country’s last rhino was declared extinct in 2011.

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Huong, former chairman of the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association, welcomed ENV’s strategy. He said there is no evidence to prove that tiger bone paste is an effective medicine. But people still buy it as a form of status symbol.

He says the consumption of tiger bone medicine has been increasing over the last few years, but he believes much of it is fake.

ENV says there could be as few as 30 tigers left in the wild. But Dr. Naomi Doak, Greater Mekong Program Coordinator for the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, says the situation could be even worse.

"Largely, even if there were that many, they are scattered over such an area and a lot of them are in border areas so they are kind of cross between Laos and Vietnam or Cambodia and Vietnam for example. I think we kind of broadly accept that ecologically, tigers are extinct in Vietnam. That means the populations are not in a position to sustain themselves," said Doak.

Farming tigers for commercial purposes is illegal in Vietnam, but a number are allowed to operate as conservation facilities. But Doak says none of the animals bred there are released back into the wild, thus, the reasons for keeping the animals are dubious.

"There’s no real reason at the moment for those facilities to produce cubs other than those cubs will remain in captivity for the rest of their life because there’s no habitat to reintroduce them to and tigers have never been, at the moment, successfully reintroduced from captive facilities where they’ve been bred into the wild. The conservation value at some level has to be questioned," said Doak.

Trading in tigers from captive facilities sustains demand for tiger products, she says. Wild tigers are also targeted because feeding and taking care of captive tigers is very expensive.

Doak says sending a direct message to consumers is a good strategy. At the same time, if Vietnam wants to save one of its most iconic species, the government needs to do more to monitor and regulate tigers kept in captivity.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Richard from: Canada
February 22, 2014 9:48 PM
Is the excuse ignorance or arrogance? This gluttony gives East Asian countries like Vietnam a terrible reputation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs