WASHINGTON – Raising captive tigers for trade in tiger parts was rejected by CITES member countries today and China was urged to phase out its large-scale commercial tiger farms, a major victory for wild tiger conservation, according to World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC.
Four countries with wild tigers – India, Nepal, Bhutan and Russia – were joined by the United States in giving China a mandate to phase out the country’s privately run “tiger farms” that house nearly 5,000 tigers and that are pushing the Chinese government to allow legal trade in tiger parts. With leadership from these countries, the 171 member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) adopted by consensus a strong decision to protect tigers from trade.
"Today the world spoke in favor of wild tiger conservation," said Simon Habel, head of U.S. delegation at CITES for World Wildlife Fund. "No voice was stronger than the U.S. government’s, which encouraged countries to pass a rule that clearly states that tigers should not be bred in captivity for trade in tiger parts.”
Investors in massive, captive tiger breeding centers in China have been pressuring the Chinese government to lift its successful 14-year-old ban on trade in tiger parts so they can legally sell products like tiger bone wine and tiger meat. These facilities have acknowledged stockpiling tiger carcasses in the hopes that the trade ban will be lifted.
“The future of tigers just got a lot brighter with this significant decision”, said Crawford Allan, director, TRAFFIC North America. “All agree that we can not take the slightest risk by changing policies that could further endanger the tiger further. The next step is to hold an emergency tiger trade summit to establish real measures to stop the poaching and trade of tigers.”
WWF and TRAFFIC, along with a coalition of other organizations working on tigers, have offered guidance and technical support to China on shutting down its tiger farms and stepping up law enforcement efforts to stamp out illegal trade of tiger parts.
The U.S. has been in behind the scenes negotiations for over a week and a half and has played an integral role in several decisions that will make it even more difficult for China to justify lifting their domestic ban on trade.
Known in the United States as World Wildlife Fund and recognized worldwide by its panda logo, WWF leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats and to conserve the diversity of life on Earth. Now in its fifth decade, WWF, the global conservation organization, works in more than 100 countries around the world.
Notes to Editors:
Habitat loss and intense poaching of tigers and their prey, combined with inadequate government efforts to maintain tiger populations, have resulted in a dramatic reduction in tiger numbers. These big cats now occupy just 7 percent of their historical range, according to the BioScience paper. And the possibility that China could reopen trade in parts harvested from farmed tigers represents a new threat, the authors say.