Where are the tigers?

End tiger farming to protect wild tigers

Tigers – Zero Demand for Zero Poaching

Tigers are highly endangered, with fewer than 4,000 remaining in the wild today – a decline of 96 per cent over the past 100 years.

Tiger scientists believe that the tiger populations of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are functionally extinct, while the wild tiger population in China continues to be perilously close to extinction. India is still the stronghold of the wild tiger with more than half of the world’s population at an estimated 2,226 tigers.

But while we should take heart from the recovery of tiger populations in some parts of India, there is no room for complacency; 30 tigers have been poached in the country this year alone, more than the entirety of last year.

One of the most significant threats to the survival of tigers continues to be demand for their body parts – skins are sold as decorative rugs for personal use or bribes, tiger bones are used in traditional medicines and to make wine sold as a prestigious gift and a virility product, and meat is consumed as a delicacy while teeth and claws are bought as charms. Almost every body part of the tiger is traded by criminals for massive profit and the trade is enabled by corruption.

The main market for tiger products is China and there is a market for a medicinal tiger bone ‘glue’ in Vietnam. Chinese buyers are consuming and purchasing tiger bone wine and other body parts in free-for-all markets in Laos’ Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone and in the capital Vientiane, as well as in the lawless China/Myanmar border town of Mong La.

In addition to manufacturers in China, tiger bone wine is being brewed in North Korea, Myanmar and Laos. Trade in raw tiger and processed tiger parts online is rife, including on social media platforms such as Facebook and WeChat in both open and closed networks of dealers.

Well-established trafficking routes that are decades old are still being used to move wild tiger parts across borders between India-Nepal-China, India-Myanmar-China-Laos, Laos-Vietnam-China. You can get a glimpse into where tiger trade is happening from the maps here

The trade threat is exacerbated by the fact that there has been a marked increase in tiger ‘farms’ in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, where tigers are being kept, and are often intensively bred, for trade. Facilities that keep tigers include not just large speed-breeding operations but also circuses, small backyard enclosures and facilities masquerading as zoos; for example, the discovery of 70 dead tiger cubs, skins and bone products at the infamous “Tiger Temple” in Thailand earlier this year.

Parts from captive tigers end up in domestic and international trade illegally and, in the case of China and Laos, in legal domestic trade. This perpetuates the desirability and acceptability of tiger parts and stimulates demand. It undermines enforcement as the parts of farmed and wild tigers end up being sold in the same places and it is impossible to tell them apart.

In 2007, the international community decided tigers should not be bred for their parts and products. Despite these international commitments, tiger farming has increased at a rapid pace because some countries have not done enough to follow through. Consequently, operations replicating the tiger farming model have spread across South-East Asia and China, with new facilities reportedly being established.

The interactive map below provides a glimpse into the murky world of tiger farming, highlighting its rapid growth in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. The vast majority of these facilities have no conservation value whatsoever – it’s all about the money. There are now more than 7,000 captive tigers in facilities in China and South-East Asia. Not every facility identified in the map has been known to trade.

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Want to help? Find out more!

#whereRthetigers?

Explore the map to find tigers in captivity, facilities implicated in trade and planned facilities.

EIA would like to thank Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) for information provided on facilities in Vietnam and Thailand.

 

The timeline below illustrates the dire rate of decline of wild tigers and the parallel growth of captive tigers in tiger farms and other facilities which keep tigers. For example, in China, from an estimated 4,000 wild tigers in 1949 the population declined to between seven to 50 wild tigers surviving today. As wild tigers declined, the tiger farming industry in China expanded exponentially and there are now reportedly between 5,000 to 6,000 tigers in captivity in more than 200 facilities.

It is clear that trade in captive-bred tigers has not alleviated pressure on wild animals and instead stimulates demand and poaching and undermines enforcement. On the other hand, when protected with a zero-tolerance approach to domestic trade, tiger populations recover as evidenced in parts of India.

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The graph and additional information below show that since 2000 until July 16, 2015, at least 387 tigers were seized in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The number of tigers seized in trade across the region is likely to be higher. Based on a review of circumstances around these seizures, it is possible that 54 per cent of the 387 tigers shown here may have been sourced from captive facilities (either wild-caught and laundered through captive facilities or bred in captivity).

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Captive tigers versus wild tigers in trade

Download table of tiger crime incidents

点击阅读中文Prezi幻灯

Tigers are highly endangered – in 2010, the global estimate of wild tigers was 3,200 breeding adults. Nobody really knows how many there are today. Between India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Russia, we can be reasonably confident that there are approximately 3,066 tigers, although Indian scientists continue to challenge the mathematical modelling applied to reach the country’s estimate. Independent scientists in Indonesia believe the estimate of 371 is reasonable, although a full national estimate is due next year. Countries such as Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia are yet to conclude their national surveys, but we can assume once all that is done it will take the global wild tiger population figure to greater than 3,200.

What tiger scientists believe we can also be reasonably confident of is that the tiger populations of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are functionally extinct, while the wild tiger population in China continues to be perilously close to extinction.
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tiger campaign graph parts

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With its estimated 2,226 tigers, India is still the stronghold of the wild tiger. While we should take heart from the recovery of tiger populations in some parts of India, there is no room for complacency; 30 tigers have been poached in India this year alone, more than during the entirety of last year.

One of the most significant threats to the survival of tigers continues to be demand for their body parts; skins are sold as decorative rugs for personal use or bribes, tiger bone wine is sold as a prestigious gift and a virility product, meat as a delicacy, teeth and claws as charms. Almost every body part of the tiger is traded by criminals for massive profit and the trade is fuelled by corruption. The main market for tiger products is China and there is a market for a medicinal tiger bone ‘glue’ in Vietnam. Chinese buyers are consuming and purchasing tiger bone wine and other body parts in free-for-all markets in Laos’ Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone and the capital Vientiane, as well as in the lawless China/Myanmar border town of Mong La.

The trade threat is exacerbated by the fact that there has been a marked increase in tiger ‘farms’ in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand where tigers are being kept, and are often intensively bred, for trade. These facilities include not just large tiger farms but also circuses and smaller facilities with fewer tigers used as a front for laundering illegal tiger parts and products. Such trade stimulates further demand for tiger parts and products, undermining enforcement operations and demand-reduction efforts dedicated to ending tiger trade.

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Tiger thanks (c) Robin Hamilton

Image courtesy of Robin Hamilton