Black market in tigers, other species spotlighted in Vietnam
Dec 2, 2010, 4:40 GMT
Hanoi - Vietnam has become a key conduit in a robust black market that is threatening tigers, rhinos and elephants with extinction, organizers of a two-day workshop to enhance enforcement efforts said Thursday.
The cross-border trafficking of threatened species and substances derived from them will be examined by Vietnamese officials and representatives of international bodies such as Interpol, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organization.
'The hope is that discussions such as these will aid in the global fight against illegal trade in key species such as the tiger,' said William Schaedla, director of TRAFFIC South-East Asia, a wildlife trade monitoring organization that provided technical support for the workshop.
'This workshop is a unique opportunity for key enforcement agencies from Vietnam and international organizations to learn from each other and co-ordinate efforts against international wildlife crimes,' said Ha Cong Tuan, Vietnam's Deputy Director of the Directorate of Forestry. At the same time, environmental groups are pressuring provincial authorities in central Vietnam to abandon plans for an auction of tiger paste seized from traffickers. The substance is often used in traditional medicine.
Loopholes and contradictions in Vietnam's laws, activists warned, may enable authorities to replace traffickers as the middlemen in the illicit trade.
Illegal tiger trade will the workshop's main focus, organizers said.
At an International Tiger Forum held in St Petersburg, Russia last week, delegates from from tiger range states, including Vietnam, signed commitments to protect the species, their prey and habitat. The goal is to increase the world's tiger population by the year 2022 to 7,000, from the current 3,200, TRAFFIC said.
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