Cape Town - Asian
demand for tiger wine and other products is creating a crisis for big cats
across the world, according to a study just released by the Environmental
Investigation Agency (EIA).
Titled The Lion’s Share, it focuses particularly on how South
Africa’s proposed legalised export of 800 lion skeletons a year is stimulating
demand for tiger parts and derivatives – and endangering wild tigers.
are decreasing across their range and there are only about 4 000 tigers left in
the wild. The largest group is in India, where it is coming under increasing
threat from poaching. The big cats are now functionally extinct in Cambodia,
Vietnam and Laos and there are an estimated seven wild tigers left in China.
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demand for tiger parts is having an impact on other big cats, says the report.
Wild leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards are being poached in Asia as
well as jaguars in South America.
Africa allows both
lion and tiger farming for commercial trade in animal parts. There are
presently between 6 000 and 8 000 lions in captive facilities as well as 280
tigers in 44 facilities. Between 2005 and 2015 more than 4 000 lion skeletons were
exported from the country, most probably being passed off as tiger products to
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to the report, the proliferation of lion and tiger farms in South Africa and
the associated trade undermines enforcement efforts to end illegal tiger trade
and stimulates demand for tiger parts and derivatives. "Given consumer
preference for wild-sources tiger parts, this also sustains poaching pressure
on wild tigers."
legalisation of lion skeleton exports, it adds, there is also a serious risk of
tiger bone, teeth and claws from South Africa being laundered and exported as
lion specimens using CITES export permits. Since tigers are not indigenous to
South Africa, there is either a lack of or weak regulations regarding their
African quota for lion bone export followed a 2016 CITES decision to permit the
country to sell lion parts. According to the EIA, the Environmental Minister’s
rational that the sale would protect wild lions was misconceived.
"It fails to
take into consideration … that its decision will stimulate demand for big cat
bone products. It also ignores the failed experiment in China where the
parallel legal trade in skins from captive tigers has not put an end to wild
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urges the country to zero quota all commercial exports of lion parts and
products sourced from captive or wild lions. It also urges CITES to add an
annotation to its Appendix 1 listing to include all animal parts from both wild
and captive lions.
"It is clear that a legal trade in captive lion
parts is unworkable," says the report, "and will likely have a detrimental
impact, not only on wild lions but also on endangered wild tigers. The
government of South Africa must adopt urgent action to end this trade."
(Source: Conservation Action Trust)
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