By Sarah Pappin
With mounting concern over South Africa’s trade in tigers, there is an urgent need for transparency in such activities — especially when the felines are sent to Asian countries where they are in high demand for use in superstition-steeped traditional Chinese medicines.
Although tigers are not naturally found anywhere in Africa, they are quite common in southern Africa’s predator parks and breeding facilities that typically cater to trophy hunters.
Research has revealed that two parties from the game industry were identified as having legally exported an unspecified number of tigers to Vietnam (one of the world’s largest consumers of illegal tiger parts) in 2010 alone.
But to whom are they exporting these globally-protected, endangered animals that are so incredibly valuable in black market trade?
Tigers sold to a traditional medicine manufacturer? Updated 07/18/2012: At least two companies in South Africa exported tigers to Vietnam — according to publicly available information — including an unspecified number of tigers sold to “Bac Son Tourism and Construction Investment Group” on at least two occasions in 2010.
(As of writing, supporting documentation is available here: http://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/question767.pdf.**)
But was “Bac” a clerical error? Although no public information seemed to be available for “Bac Son Tourism and Construction Investment Group”, it turns out that a company named “Bao Son Tourism and Construction Investment Group” is involved in several wildlife-related ventures:
- On August 2011 Vietnamica.net reported that Bao Son had recently bought “Bao Long Pharma and Health Services” – a “traditional pharmaceuticals manufacturer” in Ho Chi Minh City. (Note that Bao Son’s purchase of the company was made the year after their apparent import of tigers.)
- According to Vietnam-based “Investment Construction & Infrastructure Development Company Limited”, bones (from unspecified animals) are being sold at a “traditional trade village” in the “An Khanh Tourist Area”, which is apparently jointly owned by the Bao Son investment group. More....