Tiger Organs: As Tigers Disappear, India Calls For Trade Ban

As the number of tigers dwindle in India's wildlife reserves, conservationists will make an appeal to a UN wildlife forum on Wednesday to maintain a ban on trading in tiger parts, while Chinese business interests continue to lobby for its legalization.

A statement from the Indian environment ministry on Tuesday said that India's junior environment minister, Namo Narayan Meena, would attend the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in The Hague, Netherlands.

Half of the world's remaining tigers are in India. A century ago, there were about 40,000 tigers, compared to the 3,700 counted in a 2001 and 2002 survey. Today, a partially completed survey by conservation agencies covering 16 of 28 reserves reveals that their numbers may be far lower than that, with final results expected by the end of the year. Though the survey covers only part of the country, it speaks of a more widespread problem rooted in poaching and habitat destruction at home and across the border into countries such as Bhutan.In China itself, there remains only about 30 tigers in the wild. Currently, about 5,000 tigers are being bred on "tiger farms," financially supported by prominent investors who would stand to profit greatly from the lifting or mitigation of the ban imposed by the Chinese government in 1993. Tiger organs are used in traditional medicines and lobbyists argue that legalizing its trade would actually contribute to tiger conservation through increased regulation and reduction in poaching.

In January, the Chinese State Forestry Administration stated that it had no intention of lifting the ban, however, the government is now considering an easing in trade restriction of organs from captive tigers, if it can be proven that it will reduce poaching.

Nevertheless, both India and Nepal are collaborating on a proposal that will improve law enforcement, limit the number of cats bred in Chinese tiger farms and boost international cooperation on conservation and trade efforts, while opposition is expected from China to relax commercial breeding restrictions on tigers. ::Planet Ark

See also ::Planet Ark, Treehugger

Tags: China | India