Nagpur: As delegates prepare for the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation in Delhi, over 23 NGOs and bodies in the country want a commitment to zero demand for tiger parts in order to achieve zero poaching.
The Asia ministerial conference will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. More than 700 tiger experts, scientists, managers, donors and other stakeholders are gathering to discuss issues related to tiger conservation. Ministers and government officials from all tiger range countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand, Vietnam, besides Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan are also participating in the meet.
This conference is being co-organized by ministry of environment, forest and climate change, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), WWF and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).
“Conservation successes are visible in tiger range countries with enactment of strong laws and where wild tigers are valued for the role they play in the ecosystem, compared to those tiger range countries where ‘tiger farming’ exists and where they are valued as a commodity,” the NGOs said. “It is time for tiger range countries to unite in a commitment to end tiger farming and to end all domestic and international trade in parts and derivatives of tigers from captive facilities,” they said.
The signatories include Satpuda Foundation, Tiger Conservation And Action Trust (TRACT), Born Free, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Wildlife SOS India, Sanctuary Asia, The Corbett Foundation, BNHS India, Big Cat Rescue among others.
The NGOs have reminded the conference that many facilities that keep tigers are engaged in legal and illegal trade, both domestic and international, in parts and derivatives of tigers. There are estimated 7,000 tigers in captivity in tiger farms in South East Asia and China — and there are no signs that these facilities are being phased out.
Chinese government allows domestic trade in the skin of captive-bred tigers for use as luxury home decor and for taxidermy. This stimulates the demand and increases pressure on the world’s remaining 3,200 wild tigers.
“How can we expect demand-reduction campaigns to work in China if the government itself permits people to buy tiger skins,” the NGOs asked, adding tigers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Russian Far East are still being targeted for markets in China and for Chinese consumers in Myanmar and Lao PDR.
There is also a thriving market in Vietnam and Indonesia. Tigers are not just killed for skin, but their bones are used to brew ‘tiger bone wine’, meat is sold as a delicacy and teeth and claws are sold as charms. “We collectively call on the conference to urge the countries with facilities which keep or breed tigers for trade to demonstrate genuine commitment to tiger conservation,” the NGOs demanded.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500 USA
20th September 2015
Re: Why tigers belong on the U.S.-China agenda
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned, write to respectfully ask you to raise the issue of tiger trade with President Xi Jinping during his visit to the United States in September 2015.
We congratulate you on your leadership in the global fight against the poaching and trafficking crisis that is sweeping across Africa, threatening the survival of an estimated 420,000 elephants and 25,000 rhinos. Given that there are fewer than 3,200 wild tigers remaining across Asia, we appeal to you to ensure that they too urgently receive the highest levels of political and financial investment to end the
demand that is making them worth more dead than alive.
Tigers Killed for their bones, teeth, claws, penis and fur
One of the most critical threats to the survival of wild tigers is trade in their meat, skin and bones to satisfy demand driven by wealth, rather than health − for high-status food, drink, home décor and even investment assets. This demand is fuelled by a marked increase in tiger farms in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, where tigers are intensively bred for trade in their parts and products. China alone claims to house more than 5,000 tigers on farms.
China is the main consumer market for tiger parts and products, and China’s State Forestry Administration has grown demand by supporting the expansion of tiger farms, allowing legal trade in skins from farmed tigers and approving farm wineries that make tiger-bone wine. Those actions have stimulated consumer interest in tiger products from all sources, undermining law enforcement, incentivizing poaching, and facilitating trafficking by organized criminal networks. Tiger-farm investors continue to push hard for full legalization of trade in tiger bones – the very trade China banned in 1993 because it threatened the survival of wild tigers. If trade were legalized, it would unleash a devastating demand that could quickly wipe out the last wild tigers, as the bones of wild tigers are far more valuable than those from captive tigers.
In order to ensure that tiger conservation remains a priority for the international community and to end tiger farming and tiger trade, we appeal to you to raise these issues with President Xi when he is your guest in Washington.
We also request the United States to take the following steps to compel China to take vital action:
1. Destroy all stockpiles of tiger parts and products and ensure deceased captive-bred tigers are incinerated so their parts cannot enter the black market;
2. Review the current certification of China under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Act and urge China to phase out tiger farms, as per Decision 14.69 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
3. Encourage introduction and adoption of the Big Cats and Public Safety Act, so that the keeping and breeding of the more than 5,000 captive tigers in the United States can be phased down to include only the small number needed by legitimate zoos and conservation breeding programs, to set an example of best practice;
4. Ask China and Laos to address the trafficking and sale of tiger parts and products, ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species in and through Laos by Chinese and Laotian nationals; and
5. Encourage adoption of legislation that increases the capacity of the United States to assist in the international effort to combat illegal wildlife trade, ensuring that tigers are emphasized, along with elephants, rhinos and other species.
Zero poaching of tigers can only be achieved when there is zero demand. Therefore, we ask you to continue your leadership in tackling illegal wildlife trade by seeking an end to tiger farming in Asia and the keeping of thousands of unregistered captive tigers in the United States.
We thank you for your time and consideration.
Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue
Adam Roberts, Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation
Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust
Kedar Gore, The Corbett Foundation
Sally Case, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Debbie Banks, Environmental Investigation Agency
Iris Ho, Humane Society International / The Humane Society of the United States
Sean Carnell, National Tigers For Tigers Coalition
Kishore Rithe, Satpuda Foundation
Simon Clinton, Save Wild Tigers
Harshwardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust
Vicky Flynn, TigerTime
Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India
Biswajit Mohanty, Wildlife Society of Orissa
For Return Correspondence
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By Telephone: Judith Mills, (202) 674 4588
Twitter handles that might be useful:
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News on the talks between President Obama and China’s Xi
An international group of 13 wildlife experts, in a letter released Tuesday, is asking Obama to mention another topic — the threatened extinction of the 3,200 tigers that remain in the wild in Asia.
More than 150 people faces charges as officials seize endangered tiger pelt, elephant ivory
USFWS/Associated Press – The undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) shows a Sumatran tiger skin/California confiscated by the USFWS. More than 150 people face federal and state charges after authorities disrupted wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger and leopard pelts, elephant ivory and live birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the arrests Thursday an undercover operation that included officers from 16 states, three federal agencies and three Asian countries.
By Associated Press, Published: July 11
WASHINGTON — More than 150 people face federal and state charges after authorities disrupted online wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger, leopard and jaguar pelts, elephant ivory and live birds.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the arrests Thursday after an undercover operation that included officers from 16 states, three federal agencies and three Asian countries.
Items seized under “Operation Wild Web” include the pelts of endangered big cats such as the Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar; live migratory birds such as the California scrub jay; whale teeth; elephant and walrus ivory; and a zebra pelt.“Our message is clear and simple: The Internet is not an open marketplace for protected species,” said Edward Grace, deputy assistant director for law enforcement for the Fish and Wildlife Service.Working with counterparts in California, Texas, New York, Florida and Alaska and other states, federal officials targeted illegal wildlife sellers who operate through Craigslist, eBay and other Internet marketplaces and classified ads. Wildlife officers in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia ran similar operations at the same time.
The items were seized last August, although charges are still being brought in many cases. Six Southern California residents were charged Thursday with selling endangered species and animal parts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said.
“As a major platform for the illicit trade in wildlife, the Internet has become a dangerous place for animals,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an advocacy group that worked with the federal task force.
“Wildlife crimes are not only harmful to endangered species, they also pose serious threats to national and global security,” Flocken said.
Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year worldwide and ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, the animal welfare group said in a report last year.
Federal laws regulating the sale of wildlife include the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act; the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold.
Other states involved in “Operation Wild Web” were Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
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Rachel Weiner 11:06 AM ET Washington Post July 11, 2013
NEW DELHI, India – Enhancing techniques for investigating crimes against wild tigers and other Asian ‘big cats’was the focus of an INTERPOL meeting in India attended by some 30 senior law enforcement officers.
The five-day (1-5 July) Integrated Investigative Training and Operational Planning Meeting for South Asia was co-hosted by INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). It brought together police, customs and wildlife officers from eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – as well as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and the CITES Secretariat.
Held under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Project Predator, which supports regional efforts for the conservation of wild tigers and other Asian big cats, the meeting explored modern investigative techniques, including intelligence and information management; National Environmental Security Task Forces (NESTs); wildlife forensics and DNA analysis; controlled deliveries; cyber forensics; and effective investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes through the use of INTERPOL’s global tools and services.
Additional partners of the meeting included TRAFFIC, SAWEN, and India’s Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and National Tiger Conservation Authority, while USAID is a strong supporter and funder of Project Predator.
Opening the meeting, Shri Ranjit Sinha, Director of India’s CBI, described wildlife crime as a highly organized, transnational crime conducted by an extensive network of criminals. Referring to tigers as the ‘greatest living symbol of our natural world’, Mr Sinha called for greater coordination between intelligence and law enforcement agencies across international borders.
In recognition of the growing international concern posed by wildlife poaching and trafficking, on 1 July United States President Barack Obama signed an executive order, outlining how wildlife crimes are increasingly coordinated by organized criminal groups and establishing a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking.
INTERPOL’s Project Predator Leader Ioana Botezatu, said: “The recent wave of proactive initiatives, and the increased focus and determination of regional law enforcement agencies to reverse the criminal trend impacting our environment through multi-disciplinary strategic thinking, are a true success of our generation.
“INTERPOL’s resources and secure network enable the wildlife community to be safe in its actions. The Environmental Crime Programme is for this reason recommending countries to provide access to INTERPOL’s I-24/7 network to all law enforcement agencies that could bring value to environmental security. The access will enhance communication in a secure and professional manner, linking and equipping continents, regions, countries and national agencies with the means to fight modern crime,” she added.
“Support from partners such as SAWEN and TRAFFIC is essential for enhancing cohesion between countries in the region to improve wildlife law enforcement,” Ms Botezatu concluded.
During the operational planning portion of the meeting, participants generated ideas to enable national agencies to further develop national plans that will benefit cross-border cooperation under the auspices of Operation Prey, which targets the illegal trade in Asian big cats and wildlife products.
The Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests of India, Jayanthi Natarajan pledged her country’s support for the conservation of wild tigers and all Asian big cats.
“In 50 years of conservation, we have not seen wildlife trade at the scale we see today. It is the greatest threat to some of our wildlife species like the tiger, elephant and rhinoceros. The battle is far from won.
“SAWEN is a very important network to address the challenges of wildlife crime, and I reiterate our support for addressing the illegal trade. Recent evidence shows that wildlife crime networks have been linked to terrorist organizations, so we need more multi-agency collaboration,” concluded Ms Natarajan.
The meeting in New Delhi was the first in a series of two integrated training and operational planning meetings in Asia. A Training and Needs Assessment for Investigate Wildlife Operations in Southeast Asia will be held from 8-12 July in Bangkok, Thailand.
Raising wildlife crime and other environmental crimes on the political agenda is also an objective of the INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement events to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 4-8 November 2013.
The doctrine of sustainable use has failed. Everywhere we look we find that in practice, sustainable use has become sustained abuse. Everywhere we look, we see our precious natural heritage being destroyed. Sustainable use has become just a licence to kill. Whether it is the senseless destruction by rich white men (hunting) or by poor blacks (bushmeat and poaching) or by Asian syndicates (poaching) the result is the same – devastation of biological diversity and dreadful animal suffering on a global scale.
We have forgotten that conservation means “the preservation of natural functioning eco-systems”. Nowadays every hunter calls himself a conservationist – because he is only killing some animals not all of them.
We need a philosophy that gets back to true conservation. However idealistic and aspirational it may be, it is better than adopting a licence to kill as an overarching philosophy.
To preserve biodiversity, we need discipline and rigid protection. One example of this is the island of Santo Domingo. A clear line can be seen running down the border that divides Haiti from the Dominican Republic.
On the Haiti side (left), no trees, no life, just utter environmental ruin. On the Dominican side, some rich natural forests still survive. Why? Because right from the start, the Dominicans adopted a zero tolerance approach to Haitian poachers and woodcutters. The army was deployed to shoot trespassers on sight.
This hard line did not result in substantial loss of human life. Once a dozen or so Haitians had been killed, the message got home, and Haitians stopped coming over the border to poach. The results can be seen today, and right there is the lesson.
Most African governments lack the political will to preserve their natural functioning eco-systems. Even if they had the will, they lack the money, the capacity and the technology to protect their heritage. Right now, Africa is heading steadily in the direction of becoming a continental Haiti – a self-defeating cesspit of poverty, misery and environmental degradation. What is needed is rather for Africa to aim at becoming a continental Dominican Republic.
Yes, involving local tribesman is important. Yes, every effort must be made to divert funds from eco-tourism to local communities so that they feel that they have a stake in the preservation of biodiversity. But along with the carrot must come the stick. Experience has shown that benefits alone are inadequate. Nature reserves need also to be rigidly protected with the most effective modern technology and with military ruthlessness. That needs the support of the developed world. That should not be too hard to get.
However, rigid protection of biodiversity also requires African governments to pursue unpopular policies that will inevitably alienate some sections of their voting constituencies. Based on experience to date, this is most unlikely to happen, if not inconceivable.
There are examples where indigenous people have organised resistance to exploitation of natural resources, such as is happening right now in Amazonia, but this pits them against their own governments and they must needs fight against the national army.
I am not aware of any such grassroots resistance among indigenous tribes of Southern Africa.
Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan
Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO
Kalahari Dream www.kalahari-dream.com
For the love of Wildlife www.fortheloveofwildlife.com
First Impressions Last
When visitors come to Big Cat Rescue they walk up to the Trading Post Gift Shop to sign in and the area in front of the store is shaded, so grass doesn’t grow there. It just means thousands of people, over the course of a year, tracking dirt in the front door.
We recently began laying the http://www.bigcatrescue.biz/ in this area, but don’t have enough donor sponsored bricks yet to fill the entire path, so volunteers and interns spread a new layer of mulch yesterday.