By Gaia Vince
The UK and India have called on China and other countries to ban tiger farms because they undermine conservation efforts.
But China responded strongly at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Geneva, challenging delegates to "show us the evidence that [tiger farms\ encourage poaching of wild tigers".
There are thought to be around 3,000 tigers remaining in the wild, reduced from a population of 100,000 in 1900. Conservationists warn that they may become extinct in the wild in the next 20 years.
China banned trade in tiger parts in 1993, but since then the country's large-scale commercial breeding of tigers in captivity has boomed. There are now more than 5,000 tigers in around 20 farms run as tourist attractions by politically influential businessmen. There are also tiger farms in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
In 2007, governments meeting at Cites agreed to phase out tiger farms, but without a clear plan or date for doing so. On Wednesday, India and the UK said it was time to take action.
However, Wan Ziming, China's Cites delegate, told the Guardian:
"There is no evidence that farming of tigers threatens wild tigers."
The majority of wild tigers, around 1,700 Bengal sub-species, are found in India, which is the country doing the most to protect them. More....