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Undercover Investigation Exposes China’s Illegal Big Cat Skin Trade

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Officials from the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) recently took part in an undercover investigation that revealed the illegal big cat skin and bone trade is still taking place in China despite the fact it is against the law.  The investigation  took place from July 25th and August 19, 2009.  Other rare animal skins, including snow leopards and other big cats, were also being sold. 

Although buying and selling skins and derivatives from tigers and other big cats is illegal in China, the investigation revealed the items were readily available. The three-week investigation took place across five cities in China .

According to the recent EIA press release, officials were offered four full tiger skins, 12 leopard skins, 11 snow leopard skins and two clouded leopard skins Clouded Leopardduring the 21 day investigation.  Bones, skulls and teeth were also available.  Many of the illegal skins come from other countries including India, Burma and Nepal.

The skins, often considered luxury items,  are used in clothing, home decor and in some cases, bribery. The cost of a tiger skin ranges from $11,000 to over $21,000 each.  Bones, often used for medicinal purposes, cost around $1,250 per kilo!

The EIU has been Investigating the big cat skin trade on an annual basis since 2004.  Using a hidden camera, officials filmed the undercover investigation. Portions can be viewed on the BBC website.

Snow leopard photo Bernard Landgraf
Clouded leopard photo

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