The rapidly dwindling tiger population of Vietnam has just received a major boost, as Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung has given his stamp of approval to a national conservation program which is scheduled to run until 2022.

Under this new scheme, special protection will be extended to a variety of tiger habitats in the country, including Vu Quang (located in the province of Ha Tinh), Pu Mat (Nghe An province), Yok Don (Dak Lak province), and Chu Mom Ray (Kon Tume province).

The program will strengthen the nationwide monitoring and management of wild tiger populations, investigate cruel illegal tiger farms, and set up a nationwide database to help identify captive tigers. The new scheme has also been designed to further the aims of existing Vietnamese conservation initiatives, including its Forest Development Strategy and the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.

However, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has sounded a cautionary note about the chances of Vietnamese tigers’ long-term survival. While tigers are native to Vietnam, and are not classified as extinct, the country may no longer have a sufficient breeding population of the animal. Poaching and deforestation have reduced the numbers of wild tigers in Vietnam to fewer than fifty, in comparison to over 100 a decade ago.

It is clear that a whole lot of work needs to be done to aid the recuperation of Vietnam’s wild tigers. However, the announcement of this new tiger conservation plan can only be regarded as aster in the right direction. In 2012, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ranked Vietnam as the worst country in Southeast Asia for wildlife protection, so it is heartening to see the country make such a strong new move in favor of conserving its tigers!

Image source: Bill Ebbesen / Wikimedia Commons