Hold That Tiger ...
Primary threats to tigers in the wild are habitat degradation and loss. In addition, the illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts is greatly contributing to their decline. The trade in tiger parts is fueled mostly by the demand for parts to be used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Tiger parts and derivatives are believed to have powerful medicinal properties and are used to treat an array of conditions including leprosy, cancers, rheumatism, skin diseases, cataracts, muscle aches and malaria.
Photo credit: Bangkok Post, January 6, 2009
To make matters worse, there has been talk of legalizing the use of tigers from tiger farms in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) with the idea that this will reduce pressure on wild populations. If this is allowed, it is a fear that wild caught individuals will be laundered into trade. Wild animals are preferred over captive bred ones, as they are thought to create more potent medicines.
Some captive breeding "conservation" operations have also been involved in the trade of tiger parts. These facilities are generally tourist traps. Tigers are drugged and beaten to allow tourists to take photos with them. In an investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Sri Racha Tiger Zoo in Thailand was found selling tiger bone pills on premises. The Tiger Temple in Thailand has also been investigated for their role of supplying the black market trade with tiger parts.
- Know your tiger facts and share them with others
- Taking your photo with wild animals is not such a good idea. It is not helping conservation and is very stressful for them
- Ensure that any TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) products or supplies that you use do not contain tiger parts
- Be a conscious consumer. Unsustainable sources of palm oil are contributing to forest loss and loss of habitat for tigers and other wildlife
Photo credit: Chris Shepherd/ TRAFFIC Southeast Asia