Nearly One-Third of Surviving Tigers Killed for Body Parts

Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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Undated handout image shows Chinese medicines containing tiger parts. (Photo: Ho New/Reuters)

Over the past 10 years, more than 1,000 critically endangered tigers have been killed for their furs and skins, according to a new report (PDF) from TRAFFIC International, a wildlife trade monitoring network.

“The report demonstrates that illegal tiger trade continues despite considerable and repeated efforts to curtail it by many governments and organizations in both consumer and range countries,” said Mike Baltzer, leader of World Wildlife Fund’s Tigers Alive initiative.

A century ago, more than 100,000 tigers existed in the wild. Today, that number is estimated to be 3,500. The big cats occupy less than 7 percent of their original range.

Tiger parts—bone for tonic wines, meats, and furs—are in increasingly high demand in certain parts of Asia.

Compiling data from 11 of the 13 countries that are home to tigers, the study estimates that up to 1,220 big cats were killed to feed the black market demand.

India, China and Nepal ranked highest in the number of body parts seized.

The study concludes that because of the failure of governments and NGOs, the only true way to save the tiger is to reduce "demand for tiger parts altogether in key countries in Asia."

The report's release coincides with a tiger summit scheduled for later this month in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The governmental heads of tiger range states will meet to finalize the Global Tiger Recovery Program, a plan to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.

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