Compromise reached on tiger trade proposal

Compromise reached on tiger trade proposal

Posted on 21 March 2010

Doha, Qatar: WWF welcomed improvements over trade in tigers and other Asian big cat species at a United Nations meeting on wildlife trade.

An amended CITES resolution on Asian big cats calls for increased regional cooperation among tiger range states, improved reporting, establishment of a tiger trade database and improved law enforcement. Representatives from the more than 100 governments attending the meeting, including the majority of the tiger range countries, agreed unanimously to a European Union proposal at Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“This proposal was a test for the effectiveness of CITES as an international conservation agreement and despite the compromise, progress was made,” said Carlos Drews, Director, Species Programme, WWF International. “But words alone will not save wild tigers as a global poaching epidemic empties Asia’s forests and CITES governments will need to live up to the commitments made today.”

Unfortunately, no improvements were agreed to strengthen the control of domestic trade in tiger parts and products from tiger farms. Tiger range countries led by China claimed that CITES oversight would infringe on the sovereignty of countries and was beyond the mandate of CITES as an international treaty, even though similar measures have already been taken by CITES for Tibetan antelope, elephants, rhinos and sturgeon. However, the decision relating to tiger farming agreed at the last meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties in 2007 was retained, so the control measures have not weakened.

“We are pleased that no ground was lost and that China joined the consensus,” added Drews. “It is now up to the tiger range countries to work with the wider international community to crack down on illegal poaching and trade, and further reduce demand for tiger products.”

Investigations have found products like tiger bone wine are still openly available in Asian markets and online. Sustained efforts through demand reduction campaigns are desperately needed or the gains made since China’s 1993 domestic tiger trade ban will be severely compromised.

With tiger numbers still decreasing and an estimated 3,200 wild tigers remaining, poaching and illegal tiger trade as the most urgent threat to their survival must be addressed aggressively.

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