Police in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An have arrested two residents after they were caught illegally raising 17 tigers inside their houses last week.
The provincial People’s Procuracy confirmed on Wednesday it had approved the decision to arrest and initiate legal proceedings against Nguyen Van Hien, 39, for violating regulations on the protection of endangered, precious, and rare animals.
Hien was discovered raising 14 tigers, each weighing nearly 200 kilograms, at his home in Do Thanh Commune, Yen Thanh District, on Wednesday last week.
Police in Yen Thanh District have also taken into custody 50-year-old Nguyen Thi Dinh, who was caught raising three adult tigers at her house on the same day, to assist their investigation.
The two claimed they had bought the wild animals from Laos when they were cubs.
Hien turned an 80-square-meter section of his house into a tiger farm, while Dinh built a 120-square-meter basement to raise the big cats and avoid being detected by authorities or neighbors.
|Police work on the case in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Bac Xuan / Tuoi Tre|
This is the largest number of endangered animals that have been found being illicitly raised in Nghe An, Colonel Nguyen Duc Hai, deputy director of the provincial Department of Public Security, said during a press meeting on Monday.
Keeping endangered animals in captivity as well as hunting and slaughtering them are punishable by up to 15 years in prison, Hai quoted the Penal Code as saying.
The police official stated that the 17 tigers were anesthetized and taken to Muong Thanh Dien Lam ecological area for care and investigation.
However, eight of them later died of unknown reasons, he continued, adding that competent authorities have been working to identify the causes.
According to Nghe An Forest Protection Department, only two establishments are licensed to raise tigers in the province, thus it is illegal for local residents to keep the wild animals in captivity.