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Wildlife trafficking: how are tigers transported to Vietnam?

VietNamNet Bridge - Tigers, weighing up to hundreds of kilograms, are brought to Vietnam from other countries, especially Laos, and go through customs agencies’ examinations.
VietNamNet Bridge - Tigers, weighing up to hundreds of kilograms, are brought to Vietnam from other countries, especially Laos, and go through customs agencies’ examinations.


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Vietnam has very few tigers in the wild, while the number of tigers illegally bred in captivity is also modest. Live tigers, frozen tigers, tiger bone glue and tiger hooves available in Vietnam are mostly sourced from other countries.

In Vietnam, C is considered the ‘godfather’ in trading tiger bone glue and carrying tigers from Laos to Vietnam.

C said tigers are carried from other countries by land across border gates. If the tigers are too big, traders will slaughter the tigers and cut them into big chunks. 

While tigers’ bowels are thrown away, bones and skin are retained and embalmed with formalin and nitrogen before being carried to Vietnam.

“It would be safer to follow forest roads, which exist in all border areas,” C said. “However, goods owners now prefer main roads because they have ‘good relations’ with state officers. Besides, they have many tricks to fool the police.”

When asked about the ‘tricks’, C said sometimes goods owners divert the police’s attention. “They spread rumors that they will go from Laos to Vietnam on certain fixed days, but in fact, they delay the arrivals,” he explained.

He said a 250-kilogram tiger was easily brought to Vietnam in the past and put into a 16-seat car. However, there were three identical cars with the same number plate, each of which was one kilometer from each other.

After tigers arrive in Vietnam, they are either delivered directly to buyers or cut by C to make tiger bone glue. 

Vietnam has very few tigers in the wild, while the number of tigers illegally bred in captivity is also modest. Live tigers, frozen tigers, tiger bone glue and tiger hooves available in Vietnam are mostly sourced from other countries.

A 150 kilogram tiger, according to T, can provide 18 kilograms of fresh bone from which 3 kilograms of glue can be made. The bone of chamois and other animal species can be put together to make tiger bone glue.

Also according to C, in other countries, tiger bone glue can only be processed in the forests. In Vietnam, the glue processing can be done on islands, or in the food processing areas of special agencies.

C revealed that he earns VND50 million from making a pot of tiger bone glue and is willing to go to Laos and the US to make the glue if he receives orders.

Regarding the supply source of fresh tigers, C said there are many tiger farms in Laos where there is a Vietnamese-run market which specializes in selling bones of different kinds to make animal bone glue.


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