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 user 2005-09-26 at 10:17:00 am Views: 53
  • #12924

    China Tiger Trade Would Doom Species, WWF Says

    BEIJING (Sept. 05) – A
    reopening of Chinese business in tiger parts could doom the species to
    extinction and undermine efforts to curb other illegal wildlife trade,
    the Worldwide Fund for Nature warned on Monday.

    Tiger organs, teeth, bones and penises fetch high prices on the black
    market, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicines to treat
    ailments like rheumatism. In other parts of Asia, the bones are
    considered an aphrodisiac.

    China banned domestic trade in all tigers and tiger parts in 1993, but
    is considering re-opening the business based on farm-bred, captive

    But that would send a signal that it is acceptable to buy tiger parts
    which would threaten wild tiger populations, experts in the wildlife
    trade said.

    “We’re afraid that poachers living near the world’s last populations of
    tigers may kill them to supply illegal markets that are likely to
    develop alongside any new legal ones,” Susan Lieberman, head of WWF’s
    Global Species Programme, said in a statement.

    “This could be the final act that drives the tiger toward extinction.”

    International trade in all tigers and tiger products is banned under
    the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

    But the global illegal wildlife trade is worth about $8 billion a year,
    according to the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society, and illegal
    sales of pelts of tigers and other rare big cats have been surging in
    Tibetan regions of western China.

    “In the past few years there has been a revitalization of wearing
    traditional clothing, partly due to officials wearing such things are
    events and being broadcast in the media,” Samuel Lee, a Hong Kong-based
    official with wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC, told Reuters.

    Tiger skins sold for anything between $2,500 and $25,000, Lee said.

    The WWF said it was not clear how soon a re-opening of the tiger trade
    in China might happen, but speculated officials were being pressure by
    business interests.

    “One would guess there is a lobby from tiger farms for profits,” said Joanna Benn, of the WWF’s Species Programme.

    The world’s tigers are at a record low, numbering at an estimated 5,000-7,000, down from more than 100,000 in the 19th century.

    Chinese state media said last year that native South China tigers,
    among the rarest of the world’s five remaining tiger subspecies, were
    on the verge of extinction in the wild with less than 30 alive.

    The Siberian tiger, native to northern China, southern Russia and parts
    of North Korea, is also on the brink, with only a few hundred believed
    to be living outside captivity.

    Earlier this month, state media reported a restaurant in northeast
    China had been shut by police after claiming to serve dishes made with
    tiger meat taken from animals in the nearby Hengdaohezi Siberian tiger
    park, China’s largest center for breeding the animals.

    After he was arrested by police, the restaurant owner confessed the
    alleged tiger flesh was actually donkey meat spiked with tiger urine