HANOI (Reuters) - Police found two frozen tigers in a fridge and two soup kettles filled with animal bones in an outdoor kitchen in Hanoi, Vietnamese newspapers reported on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old woman confessed to police she hired three experts to cook tiger bones to make traditional medicines that she sold for about $800 per 100 grams. Police arrested the woman and the three cooks.
The woman stored the tigers in a fridge inside her apartment and cooked outside the building in an area where people regularly gathered to eat porridge for breakfast.
Although Vietnam is party to a treaty to protect endangered species, animals and animal parts are still smuggled from neighbouring countries and around Vietnam for use as medicine.
“She has been doing this publicly for a long time,” Tienphong (Vanguard) newspaper quoted a neighbour as saying. “The smell from the kitchen polluted the neighbourhood.”
The two adult Indochinese tigers, weighing 250 kg and estimated to cost about $20,000 (9,900 pounds) each, could have been bought from Myanmar or Laos, newspaper reports quoted officials as saying.
“The tigers could have been bought in Laos and transported back to Vietnam by ambulances or hidden in coffins,” forest ranger Vuong Tri Hoa was quoted as saying by Nong Nghiep Vietnam (Agriculture Vietnam) newspaper.
Police also found four bear paws, ivory and various other wild animal parts in the woman’s apartment on Tuesday, the reports said.
Last month, eight men were jailed for up to 11-½ years for poisoning a tiger in a zoo and selling it for $15,000 in southern Tien Giang province.
Vietnam signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, in 1994 and conservationists said only about 150 tigers survive in the wild in the Southeast Asian country.