The WWF said there were 100 wild tigers in Viet Nam 10 years ago. The conservation body said the number of tigers across the world has decreased by 97 per cent since 1900.

The main reason for the diminishing tiger population is deforestation, said Do Quang Tung, deputy director of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) Viet Nam. The growing human population has also put pressure on tiger numbers, he added, as has illegal hunting and trafficking.

Meanwhile, Nick Cox, WWF's manager of protected areas, species and wildlife trade, said Vietnam was a trade hub for tiger products, while illegal medicines made from tiger bones had become increasingly popular. 'It's very important at the moment to halt the illegal international tiger trade and domestic consumption of tigers,' Mr Cox said.

Keshav Varma, programme director of Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), said the continuous demand for tiger parts and the surge in illegal smuggling are totally unacceptable. He said if things continue going as they were, the last remaining tigers in Indo-China will be wiped out within a few years.

Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, deputy head of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's Bio-diversification Conservation Department, said Vietnam, in a bid to save tigers in the wild, has participated in Global Tiger Initiative forums. Vietnam and 12 other countries have made a historic commitment to eradicating poaching and the illegal trade in wild tigers at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit last November, she said.

Vietnam News Agency - August 1st, 2011