Chinese auction flouts tiger trade ban

Friday, 2 December, 2011

A Chinese auction of traditional health tonics scheduled for Saturday, December 3, in a Beijing hotel will feature at least 400 bottles of wine made from tiger bone in blatant disregard of a global trade ban, according to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - ).

“IFAW has alerted the Chinese authorities to this illegal trade and urge them to shut down this auction,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW. “Selling products made from tiger bone is not only illegal, but also ignores the pledge of China’s Premier to crack down on the trade of tiger products.”

Poached for their body parts for medicinal purposes, wild tigers have all but disappeared from China. Illegal trade in tiger body parts and products, driven by the Chinese demand, continues to threaten the remaining populations of tigers, which declined from over 100,000 a century ago to as few as 3000 left in the wild.

IFAW discovered hundreds of bottles of “tiger bone wine” from various Traditional Chinese Medicine manufacturers listed in the online catalogue of Beijing auction house Googut, which claimed the products were produced before a 1993 Chinese trade ban on all tiger bone products. The tiger bone products were on display at the auction preview in Beijing on Friday, along with carved rhino horn, which is also illegal to buy and sell in China. 

“It doesn’t matter whether the tiger bone products are pre-ban or not, their trade is forbidden by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and domestically in all tiger range states,” said Gabriel. “Moreover, the sale of tiger products of any kind confuses the public, stimulates market demand and fuels poaching of tigers.”

The 1993 State Council trade ban explicitly forbids all trade of tiger bone and rhino horn, including selling, buying, and transport. Products produced before the ban went into effect are also required to be sealed and banned from trade.

The Chinese ban was reconfirmed by Premier Wen Jiabao at the global tiger summit in St. Petersburg, Russia exactly a year ago this week. The summit represented the first time top political leaders from 13 tiger range states came together to save a species. They adopted a global plan to double the wild tiger population over the next 12 years by stepping up efforts to protect tiger habitat, stop poaching, and end tiger trade.

The likely buyers for tiger bone wine at the Beijing auction are wealthy elite consumers, a growing class in China who are driving renewed demand for tiger body parts.

Strategies for reducing this escalating demand were among the issues discussed by experts from tiger range countries, the World Bank, and tiger protection organizations, including IFAW, who gathered in Washington, D.C. earlier this week to assess progress in the year since the St. Petersburg summit.  

IFAW supports anti poaching patrols in tiger habitats, trains law enforcement officers to control illegal trade, and conducting public awareness campaigns in consumer countries to reduce demand.  

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos and video are available at


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