The Tiger Trade

Stephen Wiggins Studies Leave a Comment

Analysis of the murky trade in tiger trophies and body parts provided by Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.

The Global Trade in Tiger Trophies, Bodies, Skins & Chinese ‘Medicines’ 2014 – 2018,” May 2020

South Africa is a known exporter of captive bred tiger trophies and derivative products, where tigers are classed as ‘exotics’ and the keeping and breeding of such species is virtually unregulated – a 2015 TRAFFIC/WildCRU report, “Bones of Contention,” estimated there were at the time 280 tigers in 44 facilities in South Africa. 

The EIA’s March 2020 report, “On the Butcher’s Block – the Mekong Tiger Trade Trail” is a damning indictment of the species’ abuse (in defiance of CITES) across swathes of Asia:

  • The 2017, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), “The Lion’s Share,” suggests there are more than 6,000 tigers held in captive breeding facilities in China, Laos and Vietnam to supply tiger bones to the TCM industry (more than in 2008 when CITES’ “ban” guidance was supposed to be implemented), plus South Africa’s exportation of tiger parts.

Tiger (Panthera tigris) is CITES Appendix I listed, with no hunting quotas, with perhaps less than 4,000 (IUCN Red list, “Endangered” with the wild population estimated  at 2,154 – 3,159) in the wild and the species is under increasing threat from habitat loss, not just from poaching and trade.

All such activity where tigers are being bred for international trade in establishments without accreditation, is in violation of CITES Resolution Conf. 12.10, which requires registration of Appendix I breeding facilities operating for commercial purposes.

There’s also CITES 2007 Decision 14.69, which requires:

Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives

And Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP18), 1.(h) urges “Parties and non-Parties on whose territories tigers and other Asian big cat species are bred in captivity to ensure that adequate management practices and controls are in place to prevent parts and derivatives from entering illegal trade from or through such facilities.

The appalling exploitation of tigers has to end if the species is to survive.


Further Reading

Tiger trafficking: the murky world of America’s big-money big cat trade,” The Guardian, 21 September 2021

Tiger Breeding in South Africa,” IWB, 23 April 2018

On the Butcher’s Block – the Mekong Tiger Trade Trail,” IWB, 8 March 2020

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