The World Says no to Tiger Trade

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The Hague, The Netherlands
One of the greatest threats to the survival of tigers in the wild was averted today, after parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) adopted a decision prohibiting the captive breeding of tigers for trade in their parts and derivatives.
Grace Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) expressed her delight, “We are extremely pleased that range states spoke up on behalf of their tiger populations in the wild.  Allowing the farming of tigers for trade would have been just another nail in the coffin for this flagship species.” 
 
So-called tiger “parks” in China have been commercially breeding tigers in captivity in the hope that the domestic ban on the sale of tiger parts and derivatives would one day be lifted.  These farms mass-produce tigers so that their bones can be fermented to create “bone-strengthening tonic,” and tiger meat has until recently been featured on the cafeteria menu.  Meanwhile, tiger farm owners have been lobbying the government to reopen trade in tigers complaining that the upkeep of so many tigers is a financial burden.
 
According to reports in the media as well as the CITES Secretariat’s own mission report, tiger farming as an “industry” is the result of a bad business decision. One tiger farm owner was quoted in the mission report as saying that the decision to breed tigers for trade after the 1993 trade ban was “a speculative business exercise in the hope that the ban would be temporary.”
 
IFAW believes that allowing any commercial use of this highly endangered species creates economic incentives for poachers to kill tigers in the wild.  The captive breeding of a tiger, for example, requires 250 times more of a financial investment than the pittance necessary to put a bullet in a tiger and transport it to market. 
 
Six tiger cubs were recently orphaned in the Russian Far East and 36 tigers have been poached in the wild in India in the past year.  Four of the six cubs are in a rehabilitation facility supported by IFAW. 
 
The United States delegation took a strong leadership role in supporting tiger range states.  Meanwhile, Parties to CITES today sent the message that they will not tolerate a further deterioration of this situation by allowing the farming of tigers for their parts and derivatives.

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