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Tiger fur trade thrives in China

Tiger fur trade thrives in China

Tiger fur trade thrives in China
September 28, 2006

The illegal tiger and leopard fur trade continues to thrive in China according to recent investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). The organizations say that the trade is “operating without any hindrance from the Chinese government” and endangers surviving wild tiger populations in India.

Skin wearer with enforcement officer at Litang Horse Festival, August 2006. Copyright EIA / WPSI

“Despite many promises from both the Indian and Chinese governments, no effective action has been taken to crack down on the hardcore criminals behind the skin trade,” said Belinda Wright, the Director of WPSI. “The governments involved are in a state of lethargy, and, in the case of China, even appear to be condoning the trade.”

According to their report, “SKINNING THE CAT – CRIME AND POLITICS OF THE BIG CAT SKIN TRADE,” investigators found 11 traders in Chinese markets who offered them whole tiger and leopard skins. The groups say that all “the traders were clearly aware of the illegality of their operations, but were unconcerned about the threat of arrest or disruption by local authorities.”

“This trade is run by highly organised criminal networks who have far too much invested to let a few isolated raids and random seizures deter them,” said Debbie Banks, Head of EIA’s Tiger Campaign. “If the governments are to stand a chance of combating this illegal trade, they will need to recognise this and direct their enforcement teams to take more proactive, intelligence-led action.”

EIA noted that demand for tiger and leopard skins mostly appears to be for home décor and prestigious gifts rather than decorative costumes.


Tiger habitat declining. The most comprehensive scientific study of tiger habitats ever done finds that the big cats reside in 40 percent less habitat than they were thought to a decade ago. The tigers now occupy only 7 percent of their historic range.

Venture capitalists fund tiger conservation program. A new program that calls for a 50 percent increase in tiger numbers in key areas over the next decade blends a business model with hard science and has already attracted $10 million from venture capitalists according to an article published in the current issue of the journal Nature.

China may reopen trade in tiger parts warns WWF. 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.

This article is based on a news release from EIA

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