8 November 2013 Police in the north central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh caught a man cooking tiger bones to make traditional medicine in his home. This incident occurs a year after a rash of raids by police of makers of “tiger bone paste”, which is said to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatism.
Tiger bone paste is strictly for the elite – as glue, the bones of a 200kg tiger is worth VND1 billion (US$48,000), or VND20 million (US$960) per ounce. To fetch these prices, it must be made from pure tiger, unadulterated with the bones of other animals.
Obviously, with prices like these, pressure on the wild tigers is extreme. According to the IUCN Red List of threatened species, tigers are “Endangered”, with fewer than 2,500 mature individuals left in the wild. According to this sort, the biggest threat is Illegal trade in high-value Tiger products including skins, bones, meat and tonics is a primary threat to Tigers, which has led to their recent disappearance from broad areas of otherwise suitable habitat, and continues at unsustainable rates.
With dwindling natural populations, it’s not a farfetched to wonder if tiger material in museums could come under threat of theft, much as rhinoceros has recently been. (See that story here.) More than ever, museums need a mechanism to address poaching and illicit trafficking, from a practical standpoint as well as an ethical one.
- Two held for illegally storing tiger bones http://tuoitrenews.vn/features-news/2951/two-held-for-illegally-storing-tiger-bones
- A godfather of tiger bone paste http://tuoitrenews.vn/features/3186/a-godfather-of-tiger-bone-paste
- IUCN Red List – Panthera tigris http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15955/0