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Teenager attacked at Mau Chien's tiger farm - ENV's position on tiger farming in Vietnam

In late May 2017, a 13 year old boy was attacked by a tiger while visiting a tiger farm operated by alleged wildlife kingpin, Nguyen Mau Chien (NMC). The attack occurred approximately a month after NMC was arrested for wildlife smuggling.

 

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Tigers together in a cage – however, the number of tigers in NMC’s farm has been almost unchanged.

 

About the Case

 

The background of the attack stretches back to early 2008 when Thanh Hóa's Provincial People's Committee (PPC) issued an administrative punishment to NMC and also allowed his farm to act as a pilot “conservation” farm with 12 tigers in his possession.

 

ENV has been following the activities of NMC and investigations strongly suggest that the tigers now present differ from the stripe patterns and other ID indicators of the original tiger stock. This suspicion is further strengthened when, after arrests in the current NMC smuggling case, subjects confessed that two frozen tigers recovered by the investigation originated from NMC's tiger farm. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to conclude that the NMC tiger farm is a cover for the laundering of tigers and other wildlife.

 

In early May 2017, ENV sent correspondence to Thanh Hoa PPC urging them to investigate NMC's tiger farm in order to clarify any violations and execute appropriate enforcement. We further recommended Thanh Hoa PPC not extend or renew NMC's tiger farm license, draft out subsequent courses of action, and transfer the tigers to rescue centers in accordance with legal regulations.

 

ENV also indicated that we are ready to support and coordinate the transfer process to suitable rescue centers if Thanh Hoa PPC requests our assistance.

 

ENV’s Points of View

 

The viewpoint being adopted by ENV is that we are strongly opposed to Thanh Hoa PPC issuing permission, either to NMC, his wife or other third party, to enable this tiger farm to continue operating, given that it will have oversight by a subject who has been twice convicted of tiger trading and is currently being prosecuted for illegal wildlife smuggling. This farm has serious management shortcomings as evidenced by the recent tiger attack.

 

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Tigers encaged at private farms have a high possibility of ending their life, boiled in a pot to make tiger bone cakes.

 

However, recent events have again highlighted that it is time for central government authorities to impose stronger control on tiger farm growth. The number of farms has increased from five farms in 2007 to 13 private farms in 2017, excluding zoos and state-owned centers. Meanwhile, there are still no clear regulations and guidance on the required conditions for such farms or for handling violations and enforcement at farms. Consequently, this vacuum prevents local authorities from maintaining effective control over tiger farms, and creates circumstances advantageous for traders to use tiger farms to launder wild tigers.

 

The Vietnamese government urgently needs to specify current regulations on the required conditions for wildlife farming (especially farms for endangered species like tigers) and handling of violations and enforcement. Permission to farm tigers or other endangered species should only be granted for conservation, scientific study, and educational purposes to those farms capable of upholding all necessary legal requirements. Local authorities need to withdraw licensing from wildlife farms suspected of illegal wildlife trading or which do not meet legal requirements, so that we can avoid such incidents in the future and conserve tigers and other endangered wildlife effectively.