There is no escaping the fact that countries from which wild tigers have been wiped out or virtually wiped out in recent years – Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China – are countries where the tiger has been valued solely for the sum of its body parts.
At present, despite repeated calls from the international community for ‘tiger-farming‘ countries to end the practice, licensed businesses and criminal enterprises in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand continue to churn out tigers.
These animals serve no conservation purpose. Whether they die of natural causes or are slaughtered, their skins, bones, teeth and claws are being traded for profit, perpetuating the desirability and acceptability of tiger and other big cat parts and products. This culture of commodification has pervaded legislation and policy, facilitating the expansion of captive tiger facilities, many of which masquerade as “zoos”. Trade in parts of captive tigers stimulates demand instead of eliminating it, undermines enforcement efforts and threatens the survival of wild tigers.