Tiger skins on display

Tiger Trade

Fewer than 4,000 wild tigers remain in Asia but the pressing threat from wildlife traffickers continues as they profit from demand for tiger parts and derivatives. Illegal trade also takes a terrible toll on other species such as leopards, lions and jaguars, either in their own right or so they can be passed off as tiger. Though our investigations, we have already successfully broken into and exposed the illegal trade on several occasions.

The problem

There are fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left in Asia, a 96 per cent decline over the past 100 years. Transnational organised criminal networks continue to profit from demand for tiger parts and derivatives, primarily in China. Financing poaching and fuelling corruption, these networks persist in the face of enforcement efforts in some of the source and transit countries because of a lack of intelligence-led enforcement and cooperation from China.

This unchecked demand also drives trade in leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, African lions and jaguars, with teeth, claws and bones of other big cats being passed off as tiger.

  • Data

    Our reports and trade maps have provided compelling evidence for

    stronger legislation and more effective enforcement
  • Himalayan trade

    Alongside WPSI, we revealed the wildlife trade across the Himalayas. Resulted in the

    decline in use of skins for traditional costumes in Tibet
  • Laos

    Our report on wildlife trade in Laos means, unless they make significant progress, that

    Laos is facing CITES trade suspensions

Moving forward

While the use of tiger and other Asian big cat skins to decorate traditional costumes declined among Tibetans 10years ago, the use of skins as luxury home décor among China’s military, political and business elite has continued. Bones, teeth and claws are also very muchin demand and  trafficked by the same criminal networks dealing in other big cats, pangolin scales, bear gall bladder, ivory, rhino horn, musk deer pods and red sandalwood from south Asia into China.

We are investigating how far the tentacles of the Chinese networks extend and who the key figures within them are. Information generated from these investigations will be shared with national and intergovernmental law enforcement bodies to guide their own operations in the region and also with WPSI as it investigates the source end of the trade chain.

Our campaigners will advocate greater investment by governments and donors in intelligence-led enforcement, with the objective of strengthening prosecutions and seizing the assets of criminals.

With partners in the Mekong, we will investigate the trade where body parts of wild tigers merge with the market for farmed tigers and African lions.