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China Allows Sale of Captive-Bred Tiger Skins, Says Report

Feb 26, 2013 08:38 AM EST
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China allows legalized trading of captive-bred tiger skins and body parts.
(Photo : Reuters)

A new report by London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released Tuesday has accused China of defying U.N. tiger accord and allowing sale of captive-bred tiger body parts and skin.

EIA, an environmental lobby group, has found evidence showing legalized domestic trade of captive-bred tiger skins, which are sold as luxury home décor. It triggers poaching of wild tigers, leading to their population decline. This is happening despite the country signing up to a U.N. agreement which bans domestic and international commercial trade in tiger parts and products.

As of now, only 3,500 tigers survive in the wild, yet more than 5,000 captive-bred tigers are held in Chinese farms and zoos, according to the EIA report.

China has signed up to the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and is subjected to fulfill the CITES requirements, which includes strict prohibitions on trading of tiger parts, destruction of stockpiles of tiger parts and products and assurance that the tigers are not captive-bred for trading.

In contrast, China has a massive tiger population in captivity and allows legal trading of tiger parts and products. The country banned the use of tiger bone for medicinal purposes in its 1993 State Council order. But investigators have found evidence suggesting that the traders are using a "secret" government notification issued in 2005 to legalize the manufacture of "tonic" wines made using captive-bred tiger bones.

"The stark contradiction between China's international posture supporting efforts to save the wild tiger and its inward-facing domestic policies which stimulate demand and ultimately drive the poaching of wild tigers represents one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated in the history of tiger conservation," Debbie Banks, Head of EIA's Tiger Campaign, said in a statement.

"Pro-tiger trade policies are championed by only a handful of officials in a couple of government departments and it behooves China to vigorously address and terminate this intolerable disconnect between words and deeds which so undermines international efforts to save the tiger," she said.

EIA has called for senior government officials in China to take control and amend laws so as to allow the destruction of stockpiles of all tiger parts and products.

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