By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Instead of working to curb demand for tiger parts, China has continued to expand its industrial tiger farming operations.
Despite the decision made at the 2007 CITES conference at The Hague to “phase out” tiger farms, China has ignored its responsibility as a signatory to the Convention and continued to breed tigers for their skins and body parts.
In fact, according to Belinda Wright (Executive Director, Wildlife Protection Society of India) and Debbie Banks (Lead Campaigner, Environmental Investigation Agency), the number of commercially farmed tigers in China has increased from 4,000 to 6,000 since the 2007 decision.
They explained in Indian Express that “trade in farmed tiger parts is perpetuating a demand for body parts that leads to the poaching of wild tigers”.
If policy is unclear in a consumer country — as it is in China, where skins of tigers of “legal origin”, including farmed tigers, can be labelled, registered and sold — then demand reduction and enforcement efforts are constantly undermined.
Research conducted by EIA found that China has no clear system in place to distinguish captive-bred tiger skins from illegally sourced wild tiger skins, and that no information is available regarding how many tigers skins have been “registered and sold”.
Consumers prefer ‘wild’ tiger products Consumer demand — compounded by China’s mixed messages of commercial tiger farming and “skin registration” scheme — places additional pressure on the world’s last 3,200 wild tigers. More....