Officials from 13 nations are meeting to discuss conservation efforts to save the endangered tiger. Officials from countries where tigers still roam – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam – are taking part in the Asia Ministerial Conference (AMC) on Tiger Conservation. The conference runs from January 27 to January 30, 2010, in Thailand.
The World Bank and Global Tiger Initiative are urging the closing of tiger farms. Tiger farms, located primarily in China, also exist in other parts of the world. Despite a 1993 ban on the domestic tiger trade in China, the demand for tiger parts is still high and tiger farms continue to thrive. The domestic tiger trade harvests skin, bones, organs and other body parts often used in traditional medicines or as aphrodisiacs.
Private tiger farm investors have been putting heavy pressure on the government to lift the ban. While farm owners claim that tiger farms help reduce the illegal trade of tiger parts, others disagree. Many believe that tiger farms are not only cruel and inhumane, but actually encourage the illegal trade. Despite the plea from tiger farm investors, China recently announced the country will ensure stricter regulation and monitoring of the captive breeding farms and stricter enforcement on the illegal trade.
Listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, tigers, Panthera tigris, are the largest of all cats. Sadly, three subspecies have become extinct – the Bali, the Caspian and Javan. At the beginning of the 20th century, it is estimated 100,000 wild tigers existed. Sadly, the numbers have dropped dramatically due to poaching and loss of habitat. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), it is estimated that as few as 3,200 tigers exist in the wild today. It is believed that more than 5,000 tigers are living in captivity in farms in China. In other words, it is estimated that more tigers live in captivity on tiger farms in China than exist in the wild.
Warning: Disturbing Video:
While the Year of the Tiger begins on February 14th, we must work quickly to save these magnificent creatures from extinction.
Photo by B Cool