Big Cats remain in shadow of doom: TRAFFIC, WWF

Big Cats remain in shadow of doom: TRAFFIC, WWF

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A recent report by TRAFFIC and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that tiger trafficking across Asia showed some signs of abatement, while trade in captive-bred tigers posed a new threat to the “Big Cat”.The number of seizures in the 2012-2015 period dropped slightly to 501 from 564 in 2008-2011. The latest figures include data from Cambodia which had previously refrained from providing data and also because of a huge haul of 166 tigers from Thailand’s “Tiger Temple”.
TRAFFIC is an international non-government organization (INGO) dedicated to monitoring trade in wildlife. It is affiliated to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and WWF.
According to the report “Reduced to Skin and Bones Re-examined”, increasingly, farms, zoos and tourist destinations were becoming the new hot spots for such illegal activity.
Governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia volunteered data to the study, while open sources were used elsewhere.
Bangladesh accounted for four per cent of all tigers caught with 18 such seizures in the 2012-2015 period.
Apart from Thailand, Indonesia, India and China were the other major poachers.
The other countries that had large seizures included Thailand, Nepal and China.
With only an estimated 3,900 tigers left in the wild, evidence indicates that an increasing number of seized animals undoubtedly originate from captive breeding operations: at least 30 per cent of the tigers seized in the period 2012-2015 were known to be of captive-sourced tigers.
The report also highlighted an apparent rise in the seizures of live tigers, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam, with 17 animals seized from 2000-2004 and 186 animals in the last four years. It is widely believed the increase in live seizures is directly related to the rise in tiger farms.
Published ahead of a critical debate on the illegal tiger trade at the world’s largest wildlife trade meeting underway in South Africa, the report found there had been 801 recorded seizures of 1755 tigers and tiger products across Asia since 2000.
This week representatives from more than 180 countries meet at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and flora (CITES) and conservationists will be urging those countries with tiger farms — including China, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos — to commit to providing a clear timeframe for the phasing out and final closure of these facilities.
Last week, Laos announced it would discuss ways to phase out its tiger farms after the country was highlighted at CITES for its lack of regulation and control over wildlife trade. Thailand has also cracked down on the infamous Tiger Temple and pledged to investigate all tiger breeding facilities.
Recent seizures have highlighted hotspots for trafficking in Vietnam, which has come under scrutiny at the CITES conference for its lack of progress in tackling the illegal trade in rhino horn, ivory and tigers.

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