Site icon Conservation news

China may reopen trade in tiger parts

China may reopen trade in tiger parts warns WWF

China may reopen trade in tiger parts
WWF press release
September 27, 2005

China is considering reopening the domestic trade in tigers and tiger parts, banned there since 1993, a move that would spell disaster for the already endangered species, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC.

China’s plans appear to be limited to the trade of captive-bred tigers for traditional medicine from so-called “tiger farms.” But WWF and TRAFFIC believe any legal trade would also threaten the world’s remaining wild tiger populations by making it easier to “launder” black market tiger parts. Tiger bone has been used as a treatment for rheumatism and related ailments for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine.

“There are as few as 5,000 tigers in the wild and allowing any legal sales in China would give cover to black marketers who poach wild tigers,” says Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, senior program officer for species conservation. “We’re afraid that poachers living near the world’s last populations of tigers may kill more to supply both China’s proposed domestic markets as well as illegal markets.”

Related articles:

Poachers kill flagship tiger for conservation efforts in Russia
Olga, the first Siberian tiger ever fitted with a radio-collar, is dead, according to officials from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society, who have been tracking the big cat for the past 13 years. The 14-year-old tiger, missing since January, is presumed killed by poachers who destroyed her radio collar.

Siberian tiger population stabilizes according to new census figures
Vladivostok, Russia — Results of the latest full range survey indicate that tiger numbers in Russia appear to be stable, say the coordinators of a 2005 winter effort to count the animals, led by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society. After a massive winter endeavor to determine distribution and abundance of tigers in the Russian Far East, the last stronghold of Siberian tigers, researchers report that approximately 334-417 adult tigers remain in the region, along with 97-112 cubs. While stressing that results are preliminary, the news is welcome relief to tiger conservationists around the world, who have seen spiraling decreases in tiger numbers in other parts of Asia.

Endangered wildlife trafficked via eBay, other online markets
An investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reveals that vast quantities of wildlife products and live animals are bought and sold illegally on the Internet – a lucrative trade that is driving the world’s most endangered species to the brink of extinction.

The opening of the trade would also send the wrong signal to consumers, who may think it is acceptable to buy tiger parts again, Klenzendorf said.

The domestic trade ban in China in 1993 gave a welcome boost to tiger conservation by curbing demand for tiger products from nearby countries with wild tiger populations, such as India, Nepal, Bhutan and Indonesia. Despite the ban, the world’s tiger population remains at a record low.

“If this planned experiment in a limited tiger bone trade goes ahead, it will undo all the excellent work the Chinese government has done over the last 12 years,” says Crawford Allan, deputy director of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN-The World Conservation Organization. “China has led by example in the past by imposing harsh penalities on wildlife trade criminals and through determined enforcement measures. To go back on all this, especially when there are alternatives for use in traditional medicine, just doesn’t make sense.”

Pressure is also increasing on Asian big cats because of a rapidly growing market for pelts from snow leopard, Asian leopard as well as tigers in Tibetan regions, with animals illegally hunted every year throughout their range to meet this new market demand. In August, in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, TRAFFIC investigators found 23 shops in the city’s main square openly selling skins and parts of tigers and leopards.

WWF and TRAFFIC are also calling for authorities to curb the demand for Asian big cat skins and parts, and strengthen enforcement efforts along trade the trade chains, from the source countries to the markets in Asia.

This is a modified press release from WWF.

Exit mobile version