Illegal trade seizures: Tigers & Asian Big Cats

Mapping the crimes

Five species of Asian big cats are currently listed on Appendix I of CITES, prohibiting international trade in their parts and derivatives: tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), snow leopard (Panthera uncia), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) and Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica)*.

Tigers and snow leopards are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, while clouded leopards are listed as vulnerable and leopards as near-threatened. There are fewer than 4,000 tigers, an estimated 4,000-6,000 snow leopards and 10,000 clouded leopards left in the wild. The global population estimate for the leopard is uncertain; however, it is almost certainly the most commonly recorded Asian big cat species in seizures. All four of the species’ population trends are decreasing, with a recent marked increase in the trade in clouded leopards in the illegal wildlife trade.

These interactive maps are based on datasets compiled by EIA and derived from publicly reported seizures of tigers, leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards (live or carcasses) and their parts and derivatives (including skins, bones, teeth, claws and products).

The map also includes observations by EIA and other NGOs of these species or their parts and derivatives being offered for sale. The map indicates that few or no seizures have taken place in persistent trade hubs where Asian big cat skins and derivatives have been observed for sale.

Tiger seizures and trade observations, 1999 to July 2017

Seizures and trade observations of leopard, snow leopard & clouded leopard, 1999 to July 2017

More than 6,900 Asian big cat specimens seized since 1999

These mapped incidents derive from records of seizure and trade incidents compiled by EIA, which in total represent more than 6,938 Asian big cats seized from trade since 1999; approximately half of these incidents are depicted on the map.

This is not an exhaustive data set and represents a fraction of the actual level of trade since 1999, much of which goes undetected. This information derives from a range of publicly available sources, including reports by Education for Nature Vietnam, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), TRAFFIC, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Wildlife Alliance, Freeland Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Nepal, Wildlife Trust of India, WildTeam, Fauna & Flora International, ProFauna, NABU, WCS, IFAW and WWF, along with academic papers, court records, reports from intergovernmental & government agencies and media sources.

In many cases, the exact locations where incidents occurred were not reported; in these instances, incidents have been mapped to central locations in the town, region or country where they are known to have occurred.

The map is an ongoing project and as such EIA welcomes referenced information to update the map and dataset. The full dataset is available for the purposes of research and analysis from charlottedavies[at]eia-international.org.

 

* Taxonomy of lion population in India is subject to review by IUCN