Since 2014, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 3 March, has been celebrated as UN World Wildlife Day. The theme for World Wildlife Day in 2018 was “Big cats: predators under threat“.
Big cats are not limited to lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar but also includes cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard etc., all of them once roamed Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America. Although being a sourced of inspiration in cultures and business worldwide, their populations are dwindling due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade (1). Roughly 80 percent of the 40 wild cat species are shrinking and sixteen of them are considered vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered (2) . Among them, tiger (Panthera tigris) is considered a symbol of the forest eco-system of Aisa. Originally having nine sub-species, tigers are left with five remaining subspecies, all ‘endangered’ and their populations decreased by 95% over the past 100 years (3).
The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is the only sub-species of tiger that occurs in Vietnam. However, in 2011, a survey by the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resource (IEBR) estimated that less than 50 tigers in the wild remained probably in the National Parks and Nature Reserves along the Vietnam border with Laos and Cambodia (4) . The biggest threats driving the steep downslope trend of their population is illegal wildlife trade, loss of habitat and preys.
To combat these threas, the Vietnam’s national programme on tiger protection for the 2014-2022 period aims to protect and preserve tigers, their habitat and prey; gradually prevent a decline in the number in the wild by 2020 and fulfill the country’s commitments to the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP).
Tiger and other big cats in Vietnam such as clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), leopard (Panthera pardus), Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii) are all at the highest level of legal protection. Under the new Penal Code approved by the National Assembly in 2017, wildlife crime is seen as a serious crime, according to which hunting and trading big cats is subjected to a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Vietnam CITES Management Authority
(1) CITES Secretariat, “Big cats: predators under threat”, http://www.wildlifeday.org, accessed on 2 March 2018.
(2) IUCN, http://www.iucnredlist.org, accessed on 2 March 2018.
(3) CITES Secretariat, “Big cats: predators under threat”, http://www.wildlifeday.org, accessed on 2 March 2018.
(4) Vuong Tien Manh, “Việt Nam tăng cường chính sách bảo tồn loài hổ”, http://tapchimoitruong.vn/pages/article.aspx?item=Vi%E1%BB%87t-Nam-t%C4%83ng-c%C6%B0%E1%BB%9Dng-ch%C3%ADnh-s%C3%A1ch-b%E1%BA%A3o-t%E1%BB%93n-lo%C3%A0i-h%E1%BB%95-38405, accessed on 2 March 2018.