In China, around 6,000 captive tigers are raised on “farms,” often under inhumane conditions, and their pelts sold for hefty sums in a poorly regulated market upheld through legal loopholes by the Chinese government. Breeding tigers on these farms is legal, but sale of their parts is not — something that may be about to change.The State Forestry Administration, tasked with protecting wildlife and overseeing China’s tiger farms, is now deciding whether to commercialize tigers by adding them to a list of legally farmed wildlife, paving the way for tiger parts to be sold to supply a growing Chinese luxury market.Long used in Chinese medicine, tiger products are now a status purchase for China’s wealthiest and most powerful. Collectors stockpile tiger bone wine; tiger skins are regularly gifted to seal business deals. Some wealthy Chinese hold “visual feasts” where guests watch a tiger be killed and cooked — then eat it.Breeding tigers for trade in their parts contravenes a 2007 decision by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a treaty signed by 183 nations, including China. There is pressure in China and abroad to shut down tiger farms, even as Chinese business interests lobby to expand a lucrative industry. A young male tiger in India’s Kaziranga National Park. Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild, while poaching is at the highest level in 15 years in India. Photo (c) Steve Winter/National GeographicIn the next weeks, China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) will reportedly announce whether tigers will be on a list of endangered species that can be legally farmed, like pigs and chickens, then killed and sold to satisfy the country’s growing demand for expensive tiger products including tiger skins, bones, teeth and claws.Provisions within the country’s new Wildlife Protection Law refer to captive breeding and “utilization” of wildlife. But the law, which was enacted in January, does not specify which protected species can be “utilized”— legally sold — within China. The forestry administration is currently drawing up that list, says Debbie Banks, a tiger expert with the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).About 6,000 tigers are currently housed on more than 200 tiger farms in China. Breeding tigers for trade in their parts and products contravenes a 2007 Decision of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international treaty signed by 183 nations (including China).Tiger bodies in cold storage, Guilin Tiger & Bear Farm. Photo (c) Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of IndiaLarge-scale breeding is legal under Chinese law; trade of tiger parts is not. But a shadowy commerce uses a legal loophole: since 2004, the forestry administration has issued permits for the sale of skins from captive tigers used specifically for “educational” or “scientific” purposes. However, an undercover investigation by the EIA found rampant abuses, with taxidermists using the permits to sell tiger pelts to private customers, and reusing permits — which makes it easy to launder the skins of poached wild tigers. Some sold the pelts with no paperwork at all.Many commercial tiger breeders front as circuses, zoos or other attractions where healthy animals are displayed for tourists. For years, conservation groups and the media have documented abysmal living conditions at these facilities, with gaunt tigers — wasted to striped skin and bone, some deformed by poor nutrition and inbreeding — often crammed into concrete-floored cages and prison-like compounds.The cats don’t need to be healthy: they’re grown, sometimes at industrial scale, for an incredibly lucrative trade in their parts. These are the puppy mills of the tiger business, with the animals “speed-bred” by snatching cubs from their mothers soon after birth so the females can quickly produce another litter. Two of the largest breeders, housing at least 1,000 tigers each, were launched with funding from China’s State Forestry Administration — an agency tasked with protecting wildlife while also overseeing and promoting intensive tiger farming.A permit and a tiger skin rug in Xiafeng taxidermy, China. Photo (c) EIATiger products have been used in traditional Chinese medicines for millennia, with nearly every part of the animal used as purported, but scientifically unproven, remedies for everything from fevers and arthritis to ulcers, nightmares, baldness and impotence.The market for tiger-based traditional medicines skyrocketed in the 1990s in tandem with a growing Chinese middle class that could afford them. To meet this demand, wild tigers were snared, shot and poisoned in vast numbers across their range, and Chinese tiger farms grew exponentially.The value of tiger products has continued to rise: today, they command a small fortune on the black market. But the demand has changed radically: it’s now driven by money and prestige, not medicine. Tiger products are coveted status symbols among China’s wealthiest and most powerful. Serving tiger bone wine — made by steeping a tiger skeleton in rice wine — is akin to Dom Pérignon, and collectors are stockpiling the most expensive bottles as an investment, says J.A. Mills, tiger expert and author of Blood of the Tiger.A tiger skeleton soaks in rice wine in Harbin, China to brew tiger bone wine. Photo (c) Save The Tiger FundTiger skins are frequently gifted to influence high-level officials or to help seal a business deal: decorating with tiger pelts is like flaunting a Rolex watch or hanging a Rembrandt. An article in the South China Morning Post reported a new status-enhancing activity that’s popular among some wealthy businessmen and bureaucrats: watching a tiger being killed and cooked and then feasting on its meat.With rising demand — and rising prices — came increased poaching. Fewer than 4,000 wild tigers remain, with about 60 percent of those in their last real stronghold, India. In 2016, tiger poaching rose to the highest level in 15 years in India.Chinese delegates conceded at a 2014 CITES meeting that they were indeed licensing the skin trade, though they did not reveal how many permits they were issuing. In 2015, they also admitted that they don’t have the capacity to monitor the trade, says Banks. Officials have made no comment concerning wineries in China that are producing tiger bone wine — despite a 1993 ban on the sale of tiger bones. There are a lot of unanswered questions, Banks says.These men were apprehended in January 2011 while trying to sell a tiger skin near Chandrapur, India. Photo (c) Steve Winter/National GeographicIf the forestry administration lists tigers under the newly-revamped wildlife law, responsibility for licenses will be transferred from the federal government to the provinces, with even less oversight. “This is already a tragedy for tigers and a disaster for wild tigers, but this will take a bad situation and make it worse,” she says.Meanwhile, the tiger farming issue has been raised, possibly for the first time ever, at yearly high-level meetings in Bejing. Yuan Xikun, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, introduced a resolution requesting that commercial tiger breeding facilities be closed down, citing the negative impact on wild tiger conservation, damage to the country’s reputation and multiple violations of national laws.Will that high-level government discussion keep tigers off the State Forestry Administration’s “utilization” list? It might, if China’s captive tigers also quickly gain attention and sympathy from other Chinese political leaders, from world governments, the international and Chinese media, and global conservation organizations, Banks says. “For us, this is a beacon of hope.”Neither Chinese CITES representatives nor the State Forestry Administration responded to requests for comment for this story.A Sumatran tiger photographed in the wild by a remote camera near Aceh, Sumatra. The number of tigers on tiger farms in China has grown as wild populations plummet. Photo (c) Steve Winter/National Geographic Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Glenn Scherer Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Captive Breeding, Carnivores, Cats, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Farming, Mammals, Mass Extinction, Overconsumption, Overpopulation, Tigers, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking, Zoos FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.