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The Rising Trade from Tiger Farms

Due to the rising demand for tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine, tiger farms are on the increase in China. Last year, there were an estimated 24 tiger farms in China responsible for breeding around 6,000 tigers in shocking conditions. The tiger farms vary, with some being run like zoos, with gift shops and shows. An example of this is the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in Guilin which opened in 1993. This has become one of the largest tiger farms in the world with around 1,500 tigers that are kept in iron pens or fenced areas. An undercover American diplomat visited the farm and stated it had a ‘circus-like environment’ and commented that tigers were struck with metal poles and whipped. Others are being run for ‘scientific research’, where the tigers are starved to death and therefore ‘die naturally’. These farms are known as the ‘speed-breeding’ tiger farms. The farmed tigresses produce three litters of cubs a year, whereas a wild tigress will only produce one litter every two to three years. The cubs are then taken away from their mothers before they are properly weaned.

In one farm in Shenyang, a minimum of 11 Amur (formerly known as Siberian) tigers were starved to death last year. These farms are trying to convince the Chinese Government to lift the ban on the trade in tiger parts, but the legal sales of farmed tigers would make it easier for black market traders as they could state their produce is from farmed tigers.

The current law is that if a tiger dies of ‘natural causes’ then the sale of the tiger parts is allowed. This means that the farms starving the animals to death can state the tiger died of natural causes and can trade the tiger parts. Other farms are freezing tigers that die and waiting for the ban on the tiger trade to be lifted. Poachers of tigers can face the death sentence; however there has been no recent recorded case that backs this law. A poacher in 2009 was sentenced to 18 years in jail for killing a tiger to trade. This shows that while the law may be in place, the sentencing is not as strong in practice as it is on paper.

The tiger trade is growing because traditional Chinese medicine states that different tiger parts are helpful to aid human illnesses. It is stated that tiger bones (which are often made into tiger wine) guarantee a long life and are used as treatment for rheumatism and arthritis. Tiger eyeballs are stated to cure epilepsy, their penises fuel sexual effectiveness and their whiskers help stop toothache. These claims are unfounded and there is no scientific research to suggest that any tiger part would help aid any human illness.

However, a growing number of wealthy Chinese are willing to pay for tiger parts. A small flask of tiger bone wine can cost around £100 and the full tiger skin at about £20,000. These prices are increasing and with the demand rising, the threat to the tiger’s survival in the wild is critical.

To stop this unnecessary and brutal death of tigers, farmed or wild, we have to stop the trade and the demand. Please sign our petition – together we can end the trade – we can stop the suffering.

Source – Straits Times

Written by: Chantelle M Henderson –Twitter

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