WWF: Tiger Farming in Asia Must End; US has Role to Play
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is using International Tiger Day today to call on governments across Asia to investigate all tiger breeding centers and close any operations involved in the illegal tiger trade. WWF is also calling on the US to do more to address its own large captive tiger population.
Closure of operations in Asia linked to illegal tiger trade, commonly referred to as ‘tiger farms’ to distinguish them from legitimate zoos or captive breeding facilities established for conservation purposes, would significantly boost efforts to save the world’s remaining wild tigers.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), there are more than 200 tiger breeding centers across Asia ranging in size from tiny to huge. These centers, spread across China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, jointly house between 7,000-8,000 captive tigers – far more than the estimated 3,900 tigers left in the wild.
Many of these tiger breeding centers – which often include entertainment attractions like Thailand’s notorious Tiger Temple – are likely to be involved in the illegal trade of tigers and tiger products, particularly given their incredibly high operating costs. They undermine efforts to protect wild tigers and to halt the illegal trade by complicating enforcement activities, and by normalizing and legitimizing the sale of tiger parts and products, which in turn drives up demand.
“Many tiger range states have devoted considerable resources to conserving their wild tigers – efforts that are being undermined by the existence of these farms,” said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative. “Closing tiger farms will help countries to achieve the ambitious goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.”
However, tiger farms cannot be closed overnight since the fate of the tigers would still need to be resolved, especially as none of them could be released into the wild. International support would be needed to help countries deal with this challenge, including ensuring rigorous oversight of the operations while they were being phased out.
The US in particular, with the largest captive population outside of China, has a significant role to play in ensuring captive-bred tigers don’t feed the global black market for tiger parts. A patchwork of regulations governing the estimated 5,000 captive tigers in the US makes many of these animals susceptible to exploitation by wildlife traffickers.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service took significant steps in April by tightening loopholes that allowed unregulated interstate trade in captive tigers. But much more can be done, including banning public contact with tigers for photo ops and other profit-seeking ventures that encourage private tiger breeding.
“Our concern is that when these cats get too large, costly and dangerous to be profitable they can be funneled into the illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts,” said Leigh Henry, Wildlife Policy expert at WWF in the US. “Disincentivizing private tiger breeding will gradually decrease the number of tigers in the US to a more manageable number and make them less vulnerable to illegal trade. Continued strong US action in our own backyard in support of tiger conservation sends a positive signal to Asian governments considering action around their tiger farms.”
WWF is part of a big cat coalition that is currently petitioning the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to pass regulations prohibiting public contact with captive tigers. You can comment on that through Aug 31, 2016: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=APHIS-2012-0107-15341 Please tell USDA that cub handling should not be allowed by the public with any species or age of wild cat.
Tiger farms will also be discussed at the upcoming conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in South Africa, including the need to prevent tigers and tiger products entering illegal trade from and through such farms. WWF supports a number of the proposals, which – if adopted – will ensure much greater regulation and oversight of these operations. Big Cat Rescue will be attending these meetings and will be co hosting a tiger awareness event along with Judy Mills, author of Blood of the Tiger, EIA, Born Free and others.
It is now estimated that close to 3,900 tigers remain in the wild, up from the previous estimate of as few as 3,200 in 2010 – the year in which all the tiger range states, partner countries, and organizations committed to work towards the TX2 goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022.
Adapted from press release by:
World Wildlife Fund
1250 24th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
Brendan Rohr 202-495-4621 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
CHINA PUTS THE ‘CON’ IN TIGER CONSERVATION
New report exposes the double standard which stimulates demand
LONDON: Despite signing up to global initiatives seeking to protect wild tigers and double their number by 2022, Government departments in China have quietly set about stimulating domestic markets for tiger skins and body parts.
As few as 3,500 tigers survive in the wild, yet more than 5,000 captive-bred tigers are held in Chinese ‘farms’ and ‘zoos’.
Investigations by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) have uncovered a legalised domestic trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers, sold as luxury home décor and stimulating the poaching of wild tigers and other Asian big cats as cheaper alternatives.
In addition, new evidence suggests a ‘secret’ Government notification on the use of the bones of captive-bred tigers is being used to justify the manufacture of ‘tonic’ wines.
Released today, the new EIA report Hidden in Plain Sight: China’s Clandestine Tiger Trade accuses China of defying the will of the international community and calls upon more senior levels of the Government to take control and amend laws to facilitate the destruction of stockpiles of all tiger parts and the phasing out of tiger farms.
EIA also wants the Government to send a clear message to all breeders, consumers and the industry that official policy is to end all demand and trade.
Debbie Banks, Head of EIA’s Tiger Campaign, said: “The stark contradiction between China’s international posture supporting efforts to save the wild tiger and its inward-facing domestic policies which stimulate demand and ultimately drive the poaching of wild tigers represents one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated in the history of tiger conservation.
“Pro-tiger trade policies are championed by only a handful of officials in a couple of Government departments and it behooves China to vigorously address and terminate this intolerable disconnect between words and deeds which so undermines international efforts to save the tiger.”
As a Party to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), China is subject to CITES requirements, which include a strict prohibition on international commercial trade in tiger parts and derivatives. CITES also calls for domestic trade prohibitions, the consolidation and destruction of stockpiles of tiger parts and products, assurance that tiger parts and derivatives from captive tigers do not enter illegal trade from captive-breeding facilities, and assurance that tigers are not bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.
Contrary to this, China has a massive captive tiger population and allows a legal trade in tiger parts sourced from captive-bred tigers. Under favourable policies, and with support and funding from the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China, the captive tiger population now numbers more than 5,000 animals in up to 200 ’farms‘ and ’zoos‘.
And although a 1993 State Council order in China banned the use of tiger bone for medicinal purposes, EIA investigators also discovered evidence of a company using a ‘secret’ Government notification issued in 2005 as justification for producing “real tiger wine” – the tiger bone is soaked in wine but is not listed as an ingredient and is returned to the stockpile to be available for audit and inspection.
Banks added: “The promotion and facilitation of trade in captive-bred tiger parts clearly undermines former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s commitments to end all tiger trade.
“However, there is cause to hope for change – a Chinese civil society movement has already appealed for changes to China’s wildlife protection laws, and Representatives of the National People’s Congress have submitted several proposals in recently years to amend laws and regulations to set China’s conservation strategy on a new course and to end the commercial utilisation of species such as bears and tigers.
“The international community should show support for this national movement calling for an end to policies which stimulate demand, and China must make good on its pledges to the international community and stop cynically stimulating and aiding a trade it has vowed to end.”
Footage, images and interviews are available on request: please contact Debbie Banks at email@example.com or telephone 020 7354 7960.
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1145359) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.
2. Read and download Hidden in Plain Sight at http://www.eia-international.org/?p=6789.
3. Watch and embed a short EIA film covering the issues raised in Hidden in Plain Sight at https://vimeo.com/60444302.
4. The Environmental Investigation Agency is one of two charities benefiting from the Save Wild Tigers initiative, organiser of Tiger Tracks, the biggest ever tiger awareness and fundraising event, at St Pancras Station in London from March 1-21, 2013; details at http://www.savewildtigers.org/.
Spay it Forward
It’s not just rabbits who multiply like rabbits.
Every year, 4 million cats and dogs are put down in the U.S. alone. Millions more suffer on the streets as strays.
That’s why we’re celebrating World Spay Day today — a day to inspire people to give their cats and dogs a treatment that is guaranteed to save countless lives: spay/neuter.
In honor of World Spay Day, please sponsor a spay or neuter surgery for one cat or dog.
Spay/neuter is the best and most cost-effective way of reducing the vast number of animals whose lives are ended prematurely each year in shelters and on the streets, simply because there aren’t enough homes for them all.
And unfortunately, not enough people who can provide a loving home for a cat or dog can afford the surgery necessary to prevent a litter from being born.
Will you help spay or neuter just one cat or dog?
A surgery for a cat or dog can be funded for as little as $75, but anything you can give toward a spay/neuter surgery helps save lives.
Your gift will enable us to provide free spay/neuter services to communities in need through our Pets for Life program as well as provide grants to local organizations offering free or low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and education services.
More than 54,000 animals were spayed or neutered through World Spay Day 2012 events in your neighborhood and around the world. This is tremendous progress, but there are so many more people who want the best for their animals — and for animals in the future — but can’t afford it.
Help us make this the most successful World Spay Day yet: Please sponsor a cat or dog’s lifesaving surgery today.
Thank you for helping reduce pet overpopulation and for giving dogs and cats everywhere a fighting chance to enjoy a loving home.
Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States