During discussions at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), India, Nepal, the USA, EU and Lao PDR overruled a proposal from China to delete a Decision to end tiger farming.
China was alone in suggesting that the Decision, which states that “tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives”, should be “retired”.
There are fewer than 4,000 wild tigers remaining in the world, with populations functionally extinct in some range states. The conservation of wild tigers requires action to end all trade in tiger parts and derivatives, and to reduce and eventually eliminate demand for these products. Trade in parts and derivatives of captive-bred tigers continues to be a threat, perpetuating the desirability of tiger products and stimulating poaching of wild tigers and other Asian big cats. Undeniably, wild tigers are doing best in range States where they are not considered a commodity and where they are not bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.
Following on from a Ministerial announcement last Friday, the delegation from Lao PDR elaborated on its Government’s intention to work with technical experts to phase out tiger farms. Lao PDR is the first of the tiger farming countries to declare its intention to finally implement Decision 14.69.
While welcoming this announcement, we recognise that Lao PDR is home to transnational organised criminal networks that are exploiting weak legislation and enforcement. A significant investment of political and financial commitment to root out corruption and complacency is essential to turn words in to action.
Also approved today were a suite of Decisions that will continue a thorough review of efforts to improve legislation and enforcement, and will put facilities that keep and breed tigers and other Asian big cats for commercial purposes under greater scrutiny.
Additionally, there was support in principle for a proposal from India which encourages countries that make seizures of tiger skins to share photos of these with range states, so that investigations into the origin of the skins can take place.
Debbie Banks, Head of EIA’s Tigers Campaign, said: “There was a powerful message in the resounding silence when the Chair of the Committee asked if there was any support for China’s proposal. The rest of the world can see that tiger farming has no place in conservation. Now it’s time for action. To stop the breeding and phase out farms”.