The number of wild tigers in Vietnam has shrunk from 100 a decade ago to fewer than 50, said Le Xuan Canh, director of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources.

Canh blamed poaching, the illegal wildlife trade, deforestation and infrastructure development for the dramatic decline in tiger numbers.

Canh said wild tigers were now confined to a mere 9,300 square kilometres in the provinces of Dien Bien, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Nam and Kon Tum and Dac Lac.

Meanwhile, he said there were 76 tigers in captivity, of which 26 were on show in the provinces of Thanh Hoa, Thai Nguyen, Binh Duong and HCM City. The origin of these tigers is largely unknown, he added.
Test results on gene samples taken from 38 captive tigers showed that seven were Amur tigers, 25 were Indochina tigers and four were Indian tigers.

At a meeting organised on Dec. 29 by the Department of Forest Management, scientists said wildlife protection should be stepped up, particularly for those listed in the Red Book of endangered species. They also suggested microchips be implanted in wild tigers and that tiger protection zones should be established in national parks./.