Appeal: The tiger cub trade

Help us fight the cruel trade in captive-bred tiger cubs

Donate straight from your PayPal account

The cub trade

In commercial tiger “farms” in Asia, tigers live out their lives in cages. This is a tiny space for an animal whose territory in the wild might cover a hundred square kilometres. Sadly, because of these cruel, unnatural conditions and high infant mortality rates, many cubs perish.

Shockingly, traders use dead cubs in the illegal manufacture of “tiger bone wine”. The carcasses of tiger cubs are soaked in wine vats to be sold as a traditional “remedy”. (There’s no evidence that it has any medicinal value.)

Of the cubs that survive, some will stay at the facilities where they were born. But surplus live cubs pass into the cub trade, sold to restock other tiger farming facilities or “backyard breeders”.

EIA investigators and our local partners have been working to trace the routes used by wildlife traffickers to smuggle live tiger cubs illegally between Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and China.

The tiger 'farms'

There are now more tigers in commercial captive-breeding facilities in Asia than there are tigers left in the wild.

  • 4,000

    Total number of wild tigers in the world

  • ~6,000

    Number of captive tigers in China (estimated)

  • 2,000

    Number of captive tigers across Thailand, Laos and Vietnam (estimated)

China has the highest consumer demand for tiger products. This drives the tiger “farming” industry in China and beyond, and also the poaching of wild tigers. So far, the Chinese Government has done little to tackle the problem.

Thailand is known for tourist attractions where visitors can pose for “tiger selfies” or bottle-feed tiger cubs, unaware that many of these facilities are secretly selling dead cubs, and parts from dead tigers, onto the black market.

The Government of Laos made a commitment to phase out tiger “farms” in 2016, which we welcomed at the time. But since then, these farms have been allowed to convert into tourist attractions instead of closing, and they continue their illegal trade by the back door.

Vietnam has tiger “farms” and also, more unusually, a problem with cruel and illegal “backyard breeding” of tigers for trade. Apparently ordinary rural households rear a tiger cub in a cage in their back yard or dark basement, feeding it up until it’s big enough to be sold for its parts.

How you can help tigers

With your support we must continue challenging countries and institutions which pretend that tiger “farming” helps protect tigers in the wild. Because it simply doesn’t.

Unfortunately, commercial tiger trade – including the trade in tiger cubs – is not a problem that will disappear quickly. It will require longer-term law enforcement efforts. Over the years, we have proven time and time again that our investigative approach works. And with you on our side, we’re determined to be here for tigers for the long run.


Please donate today to protect tigers and other endangered species from the illegal wildlife trade. Thank you.

Debbie Banks - Tiger and Wildlife Crime Campaign Leader