The arrests were made in Ha Tinh province, central Vietnam. Dang Quang Niem, deputy chief of the provincial Environmental Police Department reported that, following a tip by local residents, the police waited for and stopped the car where the animals were being transported, reports the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment
The officer said that the detainees identified as Ho Sy Hanh, 36, and Bui Van Muoi, 33, indicated they had been hired to transport the animals from the neighboring province of Nghe An, GeorgeHerald
The four tiger cubs belong to the endangered species of Indochina tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
. The average weight of the cubs was about 5.6 kilos. The tiger cubs were to be used to produce tiger bone paste, a substance used in traditional Chinese medicine because of its healing properties and as a remedy for headaches. Tiger bone paste may reach a black-market value of about $ 5,000 per kilo.
The smugglers were also transporting 119 threatened pangolins or “scaly ant-eaters” (Manis pentadactyla
) with a total weight of over 422 kilos. Pangolins are also in great demand in China where their meat is considered a delicacy and because some Chinese believe grated pangolin scales have medicinal attributes.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, during the last decade the population of wild tigers in Vietnam has been drastically reduced
to between 30 and 50 animals. According to Vietnamese laws, smuggling and trading endangered animals is punishable with up to seven years in prison.