Photo: Traffic International
That's roughly 20% of all tigers
The black market trade in big cat parts leaves 100 critically endangered tigers dead every year. Over the last ten years, an estimated 1,000 wild tigers have been killed by poachers, a new report from the wildlife monitoring group Traffic International reveals. This devastating number is made even more devastating considering that currently, there are only an estimated 3,500 tigers in existence around the world -- meaning this poaching is one of the, if not the, gravest threats to tigers there is. The BBC reports:
Traffic International, a wildlife trade monitoring network, found that skins, bones and claws were among the most common items seized by officials.The trade continues unabated despite efforts to protect the cats, it warns.The BBC also published these grisly photos of seized tiger parts that drive home the nature of this trade:
Over the past century, tiger numbers have fallen from about 100,000 individuals to just an estimated 3,500.The study, which used data from 11 of the 13 countries that are home to populations of Panthera tigris, estimated that between 1,069 and 1,220 tigers were killed to supply the illicit demand for tiger parts.
The illegal wildlife trade is the third biggest "illicit commodity" trade in the world, after weapons and drugs -- it's a multi-billion dollar industry. And demand for animal parts, especially for exotic ones like tigers, is only continuing to grow.
Which is bad news, especially since the report also reveals that the wide swath of efforts enacted by NGOs, governments, and conservation groups to halt the illegal trade of tiger parts have been hugely ineffective. The authors of the Traffic International report conclude that the only hope to save the tigers is to reduce demand in the countries where tigers are still sought after -- primarily India, where over half the world's remaining tigers live, and China, where the second most tigers are seized annually.
Traditional conservationist thinking has been unable to halt the drastic decline of one of the world's most recognizable and beloved animals -- perhaps it's time to take another tack.