End breeding of tigers for commercial purposes: NGOs

More than 40 NGOs including from India today asked countries to end breeding of the wildcats for commercial purposes and phase out tiger farms, a move which comes in the wake of seizure of tiger pubs and skins from 'Tiger Temple' in Thailand.

On International Tiger Day, the organisations noted that wild tiger population has declined by over 95 per cent in the last 100 years while this year alone, there has been an upsurge in tiger poaching in India with more tigers killed in the first five months of 2016 that in the whole of 2015.

"If wild tiger populations are to be recovered and secured, the international community must provide support to end tiger farming and all trade in tiger parts and products from wild and captive tigers," a WWF India statement quoting the 45 organisations said.

The organisations also extended their assistance to achieve the goals of zero demand for tiger parts and products and zero poaching of tigers.

They said that the global wild tiger population is estimated to be less than 4,000 and these last remaining wild tigers are each threatened by trade for nearly all of their body parts - from skins and bones to teeth and claws - traded by criminals for huge profit.

The main market for tiger products are consumers in China and Vietnam, followed by smaller consumer markets in Myanmar and Laos, they said.

The organisations commended the recent bold enforcement efforts of Thailand government which in June this year seized 137 live tigers, thousands of tiger skin amulets, 70 preserved cubs and other tiger parts from the 'Tiger Temple'.

"This represents a significant opportunity for Thailand to end all tiger farming within its borders and to play a leadership role in the phase-out of tiger farms in the region," the statement said.

They said that there are currently two primary sources for trade in tiger parts and products, wild tigers in ten range countries that are home to the last remaining wild tigers and captive tigers largely found in four tiger farming countries - China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

They said that trade in captive tiger parts and products

stimulates demand for tiger products - be it from wild or captive tigers - and undermines enforcement efforts by making it difficult to know whether seized tiger products come from wild or captive tigers.

The organisations said that the tiger farms have expanded rapidly over the last few decades and in four tiger farming countries alone, there are approximately 7,000 - 8,000 captive tigers in large tiger farms, zoos and smaller facilities that keep or breed tigers.

"The wild tiger population has declined by over 95 percent over the last 100 years. 2016 has also marked a significant upsurge in tiger poaching and trade where in India more tigers were killed in the first five months of 2016 that in the whole of 2015," the statement said.

They said that the tiger range countries where tiger populations are beginning to show signs of recovery have high levels of "political commitment, strong laws and enforcement - and no tiger farms".

China and Thailand have both delivered important new tiger conservation efforts on the ground in recent years, they said.

Noting that there has been a growing trade in tigers and their parts from South Africa while US also has a large number of captive tigers, the NGOs said that other countries should also take action to ensure that they are not implicated in the trade in captive tiger parts and products.

"The world needs to wake up to the alarm bells ringing across the tiger's range. It is clear that tiger farming and trade in captive tiger parts have done nothing to end the pressure on and trade in wild tigers," the statement signed by all the organisations said.

In September this year, world governments will come together in South Africa to participate in the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

"The CITES conference offers a significant opportunity for governments to adopt and call for urgent implementation of concrete measures to phase out tiger farms," they said.

Source: Business Standard