Vietnam's tiger farms are called trafficking hubs

July 27, 2012 - 2:37 AM
Vietnam Tiger Farms

FILE - In this file photo taken on July 4, 2012, tigers rest in a cage at a tiger farm in southern Binh Duong province, Vietnam. Conservationists allege that Vietnam's 11 registered tiger farms are merely fronts for a thriving illegal market in tiger parts, highly prized for purported - if unproven - medicinal qualities. (AP Photo/Mike Ives, File)

AN BINH, Vietnam (AP) — Conservationists allege that Vietnam's 11 registered tiger farms are fronts for a thriving illegal market in animal parts.

The activists say that Vietnam's loosely regulated farms are used to "launder" illegally caught wild tigers, which are mixed in with stocks of legitimately bred animals, and that products from their carcasses are later sold on the black market.

The Vietnamese government says the tiger farms are aimed at breeding of tigers for "future reintroduction programs." However, domestic-bred tigers have so far not been successfully introduced into the wild.

Conservation group WWF this week ranked Vietnam as the worst country for wildlife crime.

The illegal wildlife trade is worth an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion per year in Southeast Asia alone.