Illegal trade seizures: Tigers & Asian Big Cats

Mapping the crimes

Five species of Asian big cats are currently listed so that international trade in their parts and derivatives is prohibited: tiger, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard and Asiatic lion*.

Tigers and snow leopards are listed as endangered, 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 we compiled 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). Click on a marker to find out more information about the incident.

The map also includes observations by other NGOs and ourselves 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 2018

Seizures and trade observations of leopard, snow leopard & clouded leopard, 1999 to July 2018

These maps were last updated in July 2018.

More than 7,200 Asian big cat specimens seized since 1999

These mapped incidents derive from records of seizure and trade incidents we compiled, which in total represent more than 7,212 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 we welcome referenced information to update the map and dataset. The full dataset is available for the purposes of research and analysis. Please contact us.

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