Illegal trade seizures: Asian Big Cats

Five species of Asian big cats are currently listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) so that international trade in their parts and derivatives is prohibited: tiger, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard and Asiatic lion.

Tigers are listed as endangered, while clouded leopards, snow leopards and leopards are listed as vulnerable.  

There are fewer than 4,000 tigers, an estimated 4,000-6,000 snow leopards and 10,000 clouded leopards left in the wild. The global population estimate for the leopard is uncertain; however, it is almost certainly the most commonly recorded Asian big cat species in seizures.  

All four of the species’ population trends are decreasing, with a recent marked increase in the trade in clouded leopards in the illegal wildlife trade. 

These mapped incidents derive from records of seizure and trade incidents we compiled, which in total represent more than 7,755 Asian big cats seized from trade since 2000; approximately half of these incidents are depicted on the map. 

Methodology of collecting data   

These interactive maps are based on datasets we compiled and are derived from publicly reported seizures of tigers, leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards (live or carcasses) and their parts and derivatives (including skins, bones, teeth, claws and products).

This is not an exhaustive data set and represents a fraction of the actual level of trade since 2000; representing over 2,910 Asian big cats seized as per information reported by Education for Nature Vietnam,  Fauna and Flora International, Freeland, NABU, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Nepal, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Wildlife Trust of India, WildTiger, WildTeam, government agencies and media sources. The Wildlife Protection Society of India has records of an additional 4,848 seizures of Asian big cats in India alone, destined for markets in China. Thank you to all organisations and individuals who have provided data.

The map also includes observations by other NGOs and ourselves of these species or their parts and derivatives being offered for sale. The map indicates that few or no seizures have taken place in persistent trade hubs where Asian big cat skins and derivatives have been observed for sale. 

The maps are a living project, and as such EIA welcomes referenced information to update the maps and datasets. The full dataset is available for the purposes of research and analysis. Please contact us for more information.

Tiger seizures and trade observations

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This map was last updated July 2019.

Seizures and trade observations of leopard, snow leopard & clouded leopard

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This map was last updated July 2018.

Key takeaways

  • Tigers, leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards are currently listed by CITES and international trade in their parts and derivatives is prohibited. 
  • Tigers and snow leopards are listed as endangered, while clouded leopards are listed as vulnerable and leopards as near-threatened.  
  • There are fewer than 4,000 tigers, an estimated 4,000-6,000 snow leopards and 10,000 clouded leopards left in the wild.  
  • The global population estimate for leopards is uncertain although it is the most commonly recorded Asian big cat species in seizures.  
  • All four species’ population trends are decreasing, with a recent marked increase in clouded leopards in illegal wildlife trade. 
  • These mapped incidents derive from records of seizure and trade incidents we compiled, which in total represent more than 7,755 Asian big cats seized from trade since 2000. 

Contact us

If you wish to utilise our illegal trade seizure maps and need access to the raw data or have information you wish to submit, please contact us.