WASHINGTONAny easing of the current Chinese ban on trading products made from tigers is likely a death sentence for the endangered cats, according to a new TRAFFIC report released today by World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFICthe wildlife trade monitoring program of WWF and IUCN.
The report warns that Chinese business owners who would profit from the tiger trade are putting increasing pressure on the Chinese government to overturn its successful 1993 ban and allow domestic trade in captive-bred tiger parts for use in traditional medicine and clothing to resume. For example, investors in the growing number of large-scale captive-breeding "tiger farms" in China are pushing for legalizing trade of products from these facilities, which now house 4,000 tigers. The farms keep captive-bred tigers together in large enclosuresa condition not found in the wildand feed live animals to them before busloads of tourists. Such farmed tigers are unsuitable for reintroduction into the wild.
"Reopening any legal trade in tiger parts would be an enormous step backwards for tiger conservation," said Leigh Henry, Program Officer for TRAFFIC North America. "A legal market in China would muddy the waters for enforcement officials and provide smugglers with a convenient cover for laundering wild tigers since farmed and wild products are indistinguishable. Raising tigers in captivity is 250 times more expensive than poaching wild tigers so there's plenty of incentive to poach and smuggle the last remaining wild populations to extinction."
Undercover surveys by TRAFFIC included in the report found little tiger bone currently available in China. Less than 3 percent of 663 medicine shops and dealers claimed to stock it, and most retailers were aware that tigers are protected and illegal to trade. Thus China's measures to implement and enforce its trade ban ranging from public education campaigns and promotion of effective substitutes for tiger medicines to seve
Contact: Sarah Janicke
World Wildlife Fund