On International Tiger Day, organisations including World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), IFAW, EIA, Wildlife SOS, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals and others from China, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, the US, the UK, Japan and India urged countries to phase out tiger farms.
China is considered the global hub of tiger breeding due to huge traditional demand of tiger parts, while some tiger farms are also located in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Over 7,000 tigers are currently estimated to be raised and culled in tiger farms for their skin, bones, teeth and claws, used for luxury items, wine and traditional medicine.
“The main market for tiger products are consumers in China and Vietnam, followed by smaller consumer markets in Myanmar and Laos,” said a joint statement of 45 non-government organisations.
They added that tiger farms have expanded rapidly over the last few decades.
Activists also took on the United States, which has over 10,000 captive tigers and other big cats raised as “back yard” pets. These big cats are procured through poaching, posing one of the biggest challenges before the global conservation efforts.
Wild tigers in the 10 main tiger range countries — where the last remaining wild tigers (3,500 to 4,000) live — are also being poached rampantly.
Animal activists also pointed out rise in cases of poaching in India, which was more in the first five months of 2016 than in entire 2015.
The organisations also praised the “bold enforcement” efforts of Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), which in June 2016 seized 137 live tigers, thousands of tiger skin amulets, 70 preserved cubs and other tiger parts from the ‘Tiger Temple’ in Kanchanaburi province.
“Other countries should also take action to ensure that they are not implicated in the trade in captive tiger parts and products,” the NGOs added.
The animal right activists have their hopes fixed on the next Conference of Parties (COP-17) of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to be held two months later in South Africa.
The organisations hope to raise issue of tiger farms in China, pressurise USA to pass the much sought after ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’ to stop raising the big cats as pets, and to stop trophy hunting of lions in Africa.