By Monica Sarkar
The tiger trade is one of the largest criminal networks in the world, fetching around $10 billion a year. Comparatively, the cocaine trade is worth $70 billion, placing the two infamous industries on a similar scale.
The tiger parts trade is extremely complex and highly sophisticated, making it a tricky trade to understand and eradicate. And the fact that the Chinese government turns a blind eye means it continues to flourish in the background.
There used to be over 100,000 tigers roaming freely in the wild by the 20th century. Now, there are around 3,200 left. And counting. The mightiest animal in the jungle is now also the most vulnerable.
The reason for the decline? Human(un)kind – please hold your bloody hands up.
For centuries, the tiger has been a symbol of power and courage that has captured the imagination of artists and also the greed of the crooked.
Historically, tiger hunting was a popular past time among the wealthy British, Indians and Chinese and ‘success’ at the sport was a sign of heroism.
As soon as tiger populations became threatened, hunting was banned. But today we destroy tigers’ homes, shoot them dead for their skin to use as wall hangings or hearthrugs, use their teeth and bones for mythical medicine and even their penis as an aphrodisiac. As we procreate, tigers dissipate.
Why should we care?
Many people fail to understand the welfare of the tiger because they cannot see how it affects humans. But tigers are at the top of the food chain; therefore they keep the numbers of their prey – such as deer, antelopes and gaur – under control.
If the tiger becomes extinct, the populations of their prey will spiral out of control and destroy the forests and environment upon which they feed. More....