With tiger farms in Asia coming in for increasing global scrutiny, important progress was made towards closing them at CITES CoP17 today, restarting a process that had been stalled since 2007 – when the agreement was first reached on the need to phase them out.
Critically, China’s proposal to remove the existing CITES requirement to control such captive facilities was rejected by all other parties, suggesting governments worldwide are not willing to relax trade in captive-bred tigers.
CITES increased scrutiny on Asia’s tiger farms. Countries unanimously rejected a proposal by China to remove the existing requirement to control tiger farms. In addition, Laos confirmed it will close all its tiger farms.
In response, WWF issued the following statement from Heather Sohl, chief advisor for wildlife at WWF-UK,
“The decision made today by CITES to review captive tiger facilities will provide much-needed insight into these illicit practices. There has been an international ban on the trade in tigers and their products for decades yet poaching remains the greatest threat to their survival – and it is clear that captive breeding facilities are playing an increasing role in the illegal trade.
“In 2007, CITES passed a motion to tackle the role of tiger farms in the illegal trade. Nine years later, Asia has more tiger farms, more tigers in them and more tiger trafficking. We are running out of time. However, with today’s agreements, along with the continued efforts of conservationists, we hope that tiger farms will soon be a thing of the past.”
The decision comes after the release of a WWF and TRAFFIC tiger trafficking report, which found no slow down in the illegal tiger trade. In addition, the report found that almost 30% of tigers seized between 2012 and 2015 were believed to come from captive facilities – highlighting the urgent need to tackle tiger farms, which are fuelling the illegal trade.