Image credit: MacJewell/Flickr
Tiger farms, delegates from World Bank say, should be closed. The announcement was given during the first Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation as a call to several attending countries that allow commercial captive breeding of tigers.Found primarily in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, tiger farms, World Bank contends, fuel the international demand for tiger parts. In the statement, Keshav Varma, director of the Global Tiger Initiative, said:
Our position is that tiger farms as an animal practice are cruel. They fan the potential use of tiger parts. That is extremely dangerous because that would continue to spur demand.
TRAFFIC, an organization that monitors international wildlife trade, commented that tiger farms are dangerous because it will always be cheaper and easier to poach an animal from the wild than raise it on a farm. Once tigers have been killed, they point out, the parts are indistinguishable.
However, not all conservationists agree with the statement. Pointing to the continued efforts of the Chinese government to curb the sale and trade of tiger parts, David Smith, a tiger expert at the University of Minnesota, commented:
They [China] have wild tigers in the north and wild tigers in Yunnan (Province). Can we for once focus on that instead of pointing our fingers at them all the time...we know in every political realm, the Chinese don't want to be pushed.
Others fear that the statement will distract delegates from more immediate concerns, like increasing funding for tiger protection programs.
Even if tiger farming countries complied, ending the practice would not be trivial. TRAFFIC's James Compton admitted:
The process of shutting down the farms is more complex than doing a simple blanket decision to close all the farms...what do you do with all the tigers? What do you do with all the investment from the tiger community?
Despite the announcement, tiger farms have yet to enter discussion at the ministerial conference.
Read more about tigers:
13 Countries Meet to Save Endangered Tigers
Fading Tiger, Climate Dragon
Tiger Tops WWF's List of Ten Critically Endangered Species
Shock: Ultra Rare Tiger Dismembered at Zoo and Sold on Chinese Black Market
First-Time Footage of Super Rare Sumatran Tiger & Cubs Released (Video)
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