The auction of confiscated tiger bone glue is illegal
Date: December 03 2010
Associate Professor Dr Bui Cach Tuyen, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources & the Environment, has responded to the recent auction of 2.77kg of tiger bone glue sanctioned by the Thanh Hoa People’s Committee by declaring the auction illegal. Bich Ngoc, a journalist from the Khoahoc Baodatviet newspaper, interviewed the Professor.
Bich Ngoc: You have recently returned from the International Tiger Conservation Forum held in St. Petersburg at which you led Vietnam’s delegation. How did Vietnam demonstrate its commitment to tiger conservation at the forum?
Dr Bui Cach Tuyen: At the conference, I represented Ministries and branches of the Vietnamese government and, along with 13 other countries, I signed an international agreement on tiger conservation. This six-provision agreement was accepted by all the ministries and branches I represented, two of which are worth noting. The first provision looks at the implementation of campaigns to change public opinion regarding the use of tiger products or other wildlife products, and how to mobilize the public in tiger conservation efforts. The second provision looks at ways to enhance law enforcement against crimes relating to tiger conservation and other wildlife protected by law.
Bich Ngoc: Vietnam has committed itself to tiger conservation in front of a world audience, but the case concerning the auction of tiger bone glue still occurred in Thanh Hoa province. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Dr Bui Cach Tuyen: The auction made tiger products easily accessible on the consumer market and was not conducive to tiger conservation in any way. Take Kenya as an example. The Kenyan government demonstrated a serious commitment to end the smuggling of wildlife and their parts, with special emphasis on ivory and rhino horn. The government confiscated a huge amount of ivory and selected a place in the capital of Nairobi to destroy it before the media. Unlike the auction for profit that occurred in Thanh Hoa, the Kenyan government’s action worked as a deterrent and demonstrated strict observance of the law. The Thanh Hoa auction is regrettable for Vietnam, especially when many laws regarding wildlife protection are already in place.
Bich Ngoc: By allowing the auction, the Thanh Hoa People’s Committee was acting illegally, wasn’t it?
Dr Bui Cach Tuyen: Yes, from a legal viewpoint, the auction was illegal. In terms of its impact on society, the auction was very negative as it condoned the use of tiger products in a public setting.
Bich Ngoc: Circular 90/2008/TT-BNN issued by the Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development on 28 August, 2010 listed solutions on how to deal with confiscated wildlife exhibits: that they be transferred to scientific establishments, training centers, or handed over for medical research. Are there too many ‘loopholes’ in the circular?
Dr Bui Cach Tuyen: The Thanh Hoa People's Committee’s agreement to allow agencies under its control to organize a public auction of tiger glue was materialistic, and even allowing it to be used to make medicine should be limited. For example, the products were deemed illegal and confiscated, only to be auctioned off and returned to the consumer market. This can be likened to the case of impure iron and steel scrap - the cause of serious environmental pollution - being confiscated, melted down, and the pure iron being auctioned off and returning to the market. I want to emphasize the need to end the vicious wildlife trade cycle and prevent wildlife products from returning to the market.
Bich Ngoc: The cases you have mentioned were far from easy to control, weren’t they?
Dr Bui Cach Tuyen: Actually the law must always be adjusted and provisions which are not clear must be standardized. Authorities are currently making efforts to enforce laws and raise the prestige of and interest in wildlife protection all over the world. In my opinion, law-breaking must be taken very seriously.
Bich Ngoc: Thank you
Translation of interview transcript by Le Huong -MU officer on Dec 08th 2010; Edited by Simone Nance on Dec 10, 2010
Please note: Translated by Education for Nature – Vietnam. This translation is unofficial in nature. The Vietnamese language version of this story can be obtained by contacting ENV.