First conference on illegal jaguar trade hears how it is being driven by demand for tiger parts

The first regional conference on combating illegal jaguar trade closed on 25 July with a commitment to closer regional cooperation to counter the transnational criminal networks involved.

The meeting was hosted by Bolivia with delegates from Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru, with support from the UK.

Concurrently, NGOs and inter-governmental bodies such as Interpol, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat presented information on jaguar trade and other illegal wildlife trade to an audience of park rangers, academics and other civil society groups.

Debbie Banks, our Tiger Campaign Leader, attended for EIA, sponsored by the British Embassy, and we were invited to share our experiences of the Asian big cat trade.

Banks presented on the demand drivers for tiger, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard, discussed how the consumers access big cat parts, including via social media, and outlined actions that can be taken to disrupt criminal networks and reduce demand, including phasing out tiger farms.

The demand for tiger is now so huge that Chinese and Vietnamese traffickers are acquiring jaguar teeth, bones and claws which are mailed back to China or carried in passenger luggage.

There are a huge amount of jaguar parts available on social media and we highlighted that jaguar teeth are bought and sold in China and Vietnam as “American tiger” or “South American leopard” as there is no word for ‘jaguar’ in China or Vietnam, inflating the international value of jaguars because of demand for tiger.

She also took the opportunity to urge jaguar range states to support the Government of India’s proposal to CITES CoP18 in Geneva in a show of unity to end demand for big cats; Asian big cats and jaguars are on the agenda for the meeting in August.