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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs