Illegal trade seizures: Tigers & Asian Big Cats

Mapping the crimes

Five species of Asian big cats are 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 common of the Asian big cats recorded 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 a subset of poaching and seizure incidents compiled by EIA and derived from publicly available information of reported seizures of skins, carcasses, stuffed/mounted specimens and illegally traded live animals of tiger, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard. In many cases, the exact locations of crimes are not available so such incidents have been mapped to central locations in the territories concerned. The location of trade hubs where EIA and other NGOs have documented Asian big cat parts and derivatives for sale are also indicated.

Tiger seizures, 1999 to July 2016

Global seizures of leopard, snow leopard & clouded leopard, 1999 to July 2016

It is not an exhaustive data set and presents a fraction of the actual level of trade since 1999, representing over 2,600 Asian big cats seized as per information reported 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, WWF, academic papers, court records, intergovernmental and government agencies, and media sources. WPSI has records of an additional 3,400+ seizures of Asian big cats in India alone, destined for markets in China.

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.