Guest Blog by JA Mills, author of ‘Blood of the Tiger’
I wrote Blood of the Tiger, in part, because so many people have tried to silence the story it tells.
I was investigating bear farming in China in 1991 when I was taken to a rural mink farm where I saw a handful of tigers kept in rusty, old-school zoo cages. The staff proudly showed me a hand-written ledger filling up with orders for tiger bones. This was China’s first fledgling tiger farm. My government minder told me China intended to farm bears, tigers and a long list of other endangered species “like cows and pigs.”
The conservation organizations I was working with at the time didn’t take issue with bear or tiger farming. These were matters for animal-welfare groups, I was told.
Once I became director of TRAFFIC’s East Asia program, I was discouraged from bringing up bear and tiger farming because it was a “sensitive” issue for China’s forestry ministry, which happened to be helping grow the farms and build tiger-bone wineries after China’s State Council had banned all trade in tiger bone in 1993.
There were several liberating years between 2005 and 2010 when the silence was broken. The International Tiger Coalition—which grew to include 42 member organizations from the conservation, animal welfare, traditional Chinese medicine, legal and tourism sectors—spoke with one undeniable voice to ask that all tiger trade from all sources be banned forever.
“In the early 1990s, we feared that Chinese demand for tiger parts would drive the tiger to extinction by the new millennium,” World Wildlife Fund’s Sybille Klenzendorf said in 2007. “To… allow any trade in captive-bred tiger products would waste all the efforts invested in saving wild tigers. It would be a catastrophe for tiger conservation.” That was the year the International Tiger Coalition took the matter to the member countries of the UN treaty on trade in endangered species—CITES—which decided by consensus that tigers should not be farmed to supply trade in their parts and products.
In spite of CITES’ decision, China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) announced in 2010 it was overseeing as many as 6,000 tigers on farms—1,000 more than in 2007! Government officials and conservationists alike had meetings with the SFA that were described as not-so-diplomatic strong-arming to keep silent on the issue of tiger farms and implementing the UN decision against them.
made a vow to write Blood of the Tiger after the topic of tiger farming was forbidden from mere mention at Vladimir Putin’s tiger summit in late 2010. I vowed to break the silence so that the world could decide whether it wants tigers in the wild for future generations or tigers that are no more than livestock raised “like cows and pigs” to supply luxury commodities such as tiger-bone wine and tiger-skin rugs to wealthy elites.
You, dear reader, are the world. Will you help break the silence?
Blood of the Tiger is available from Amazon.
“J A Mills opens the doors on China’s tiger farms and some of the world’s most important meetings where the fate of the tiger is discussed. Prepare to be amazed – this is not a work of fiction.” TigerTime.
Lend your voice to help ban the trade in tigers from all sources at https://davidshepherd.org/our-work/tigers