Today is International Tiger Day and, as well as an opportunity to celebrate this magnificent big cat, it is an opportunity to reflect on the pressing need to do all we can to end tiger farming, and to end demand for tiger parts and products.
With as few as 3,000 remaining in the wild, tigers remain alarmingly vulnerable to extinction.
The primary threat faced by wild tigers is of being poached for trade in their skins, bones and other body parts. If we want to ensure a long-term future for tigers in the wild, we must end demand for all tiger parts and products, whether sourced from wild or captive tigers.
The number of tigers in captivity is at least 6,000, easily more than twice the number in the wild in east and South-East Asia alone. For example, China has more than 5,000 tigers in captivity, in tiger ‘farms’, animal parks and other commercial enterprises, yet it has merely 40-50 tigers in the wild. Thailand has about 1,000 tigers in tourist attractions and so-called “zoos”, with only about 200 tigers in the wild.
Tiger ‘farms’ throughout China, Thailand, Vietnam and Lao PDR are breeding tigers for commercial purposes for trade in their parts and products. The use of tiger skins as luxury home décor and the consumption of tiger bone wine and meat are considered to symbolise social status and wealth.
Tigers are also used for entertainment such as for attracting tourists for photo sessions or for circus performances.
EIA Wildlife Campaigner Shruti Suresh said: “It might seem like innocent fun to visit one of these tiger attractions and to have your photo taken cuddling or playing with a tiger but in reality these tiger ‘farms’ do not serve any conservation purpose. The sinister truth behind the scenes of these places is that they pose a very real and serious threat to tigers in the wild.
“Trade in tigers, their parts and products from captive facilities serves only to stimulate consumer demand, creating a massive enforcement challenge and wholly undermining the efforts of the international community to protect tigers.”
Today, on International Tiger Day, EIA calls for action to end tiger farming. What can you do?
• Be aware of and share the concerns related to tiger farming. More information on this is available in Caged Assets: Tiger Farming and Trade, a report jointly prepared by EIA and several other NGOs.
• When on holiday, avoid the temptation to give tiger ‘farms’ your money by posing and playing with captive tigers.
• Urge your government to actively call for an end to all trade in parts and products from wild or captive tigers..