Pressure mounts on China to stop tiger farming

Posted: 13 June 2007

China has been urged to phase out its commercial tiger farms - which grow nearly 5,000 big cats for the illegal sale of food and medicinal products - by 171 countries meeting at an international wildlife trade convention.

Three countries with wild tigers - India, Nepal and Bhutan - were among those who called on China to phase out the country's privately run "tiger farms" at The Convention of Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). These facilities house nearly 5,000 big cats and are pushing the Chinese government to allow legal trade in tiger parts.

South China tiger
South China tiger
South China tiger in Beijing Zoo. Photo © WWF-Canon/John MacKinnon

"India spoke out strongly and courageously for their wild tigers, along with Bhutan and Nepal," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF's Global Species Programme. "China has said that it will not lift its ban without listening to scientific opinion from around the world. The world spoke today and urged China not to reopen any trade in tiger parts and to increase protection for tigers in the wild."

CITES also rejected the concept of raising captive tigers for trade in tiger parts and products.

Tiger carcasses

Investors in the captive tiger breeding centres in China have been pressuring the Chinese government to lift its successful 14-year-old ban on domestic trade in tiger parts so they can legally sell products like tiger bone wine and tiger meat. These facilities have acknowledged stockpiling tiger carcasses in the hopes that the trade ban will be lifted.

"A legal market in China for products made from farmed tigers would increase demand and allow criminals to 'launder' products made from tigers poached from the wild," said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC International. "Tiger numbers in the wild are so precarious that we cannot risk any actions that could jeopardize them further."

WWF and TRAFFIC, along with a coalition of 33 other organizations working on tigers, have offered guidance and technical support to Chinaon shutting down its tiger farms and stepping up law enforcement efforts to stamp out illegal trade of tiger parts.

Tiger experts from conservation groups warn that if tigers are to survive, governments must stop all trade in tiger products from wild and captive-bred sources, as well as increase efforts to conserve the species and their habitats.

Habitat loss and intense poaching of tigers and their prey, combined with inadequate government efforts to maintain tiger populations, haveresulted in a dramatic reduction in tiger numbers.

Source: WWF press release, 13th June 2007