“Wild tigers are on life support.”
One of the reasons wild tiger populations have plummeted so quickly was the demand for tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine. A disturbing trend has appeared lately, where the focus on “health” has been replaced by “wealth”. In China, the rare tiger has become a status symbol of wealth. Tiger parts are used in expensive wine and their pelts are shown off as a symbol of wealth. Even more horrifying however, are the “shows” that wealthy Chinese hold as a form of entertainment, where tigers are slaughtered while guests watch. Then the tiger meat is served to guests.
There is a loophole in China’s system which allows breeding of tigers and the “utilization” of certain products derived from captive-bred tigers. This loophole made tiger farming a big business, where farms hold more than 5,000 tigers. While breeding tigers is legal in China, selling tiger parts is not, unless exempt by permits for educational or scientific purposes. So many of the tiger farms front as animal parks dedicated to conservation efforts. Because the sale of tiger parts is illegal, tigers from breeding farms are spilling over into the black market. When tiger parts are made available like this, it fuels demand, which in turn increases poaching of the wild tigers. This is a very messy situation in China and it begs the question of how deeply government officials are involved in the black market. Other nations must demand answers and hold China accountable.
“The world must persuade China to phase out its tiger farms, end all commerce in tigers and commit to cooperative international conservation and enforcement efforts. If not, the largest of the world’s cats will not survive.”
There is hope yet. Younger generations in China are slowly developing a new way of thinking, thanks to public service announcements, billboards and social media campaigns. Film stars such as Jackie Chan and Jiang Wen appear in ads saying, “When the buying stops, the killing can, too.” If this message seeps into the minds of the younger generation and the minds across the world, then maybe we have a chance of saving wild tigers from extinction. That is why knowledge and sharing this knowledge is so important.
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