Quantcast
Popular

World's Last Remaining Tigers Live Under Severe Threat of Extinction

The world's last remaining tigers are living under severe threat of extinction, having lost 93 percent of their historical range and suffered a population crash of 95 percent during the past century.

The major threat to their continued existence on Earth is poaching to meet the high demand in Asia for their parts and derivatives.


This demand is exacerbated by the legal trade in lion bone, so it was with dismay that the Environmental Investigation Agency witnessed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 17th Conference of the Parties last year decide to allow South Africa to export up to 800 lion skeletons a year—as long as the lions were sourced from captive breeding facilities in South Africa.

Ahead of next week's 29th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee, in Geneva, Switzerland, the Environmental Investigation Agency has produced the detailed briefing The Lion's Share: South Africa's trade exacerbates demand for tiger parts and derivatives outlining the threat.

Any quota for a trade in captive-bred lions is of major concern. Not only is it likely this decision will negatively impact wild lion populations but it will also adversely impact on other large big cat species, especially the endangered tiger.

South Africa currently has up to 200 facilities breeding lions, with as many as 8,000 captive lions dwarfing the estimated 3,490 free-roaming lions found in the country.

Tigers are also being commercially bred in South Africa. In 2015, there were a known 44 facilities with at least 280 tigers being bred for trophy hunting and trade—in direct contravention of a CITES decision.

Legal exports of lion skeletons and parts from South Africa have increased markedly since 2008; exports of bodies and skeletons alone during this time period account for more than 4,200 lions.

The main destination countries for skeletons, bodies, claws and teeth are within Asia—Vietnam and Laos alone imported 755 bodies, 5.87.5kg of bones (equivalent to 65 lions), 54 claws, 3,125 skeletons, 67 skulls and 90 teeth, all commercial purposes.

Exports of lion parts from South Africa undermines enforcement efforts to end illegal tiger trade since without DNA analysis it is very difficult to distinguish between tiger and lion bone, teeth and claws. Exports also stimulate demand for tiger parts and derivatives since large amounts of lion bone and derivatives are marketed as tiger and offered for sale in China and South-East Asia. For example, in May last year a Vietnamese national was arrested with 680 tiger claws in their possession although DNA testing showed they were in fact lion claws.

Discerning consumers preferring wild-sourced tiger parts desire proof that purported tiger bones and their derivatives are genuine, requesting the display of skins and/or carcasses as evidence. Such demand drives the poaching of wild tigers. Since 2000, globally more than 950 tiger skins have been either seized or observed in the illegal trade; more than 270 carcasses, 1,800kg of bones and 12,000 bottles of tiger bone wine have also been seized.

It is clear that a legal trade in captive lion parts is unworkable. The government of South Africa must adopt urgent action to end this trade which feeds a market not only consuming captive-bred lions but also wild tigers.

The Environmental Investigation Agency urges the South African Government to stop all commercial exports of lion parts and derivatives, to implement CITES decisions applicable to tigers (amending legislation if required to do so) and to undertake targeted intelligence-led enforcement operations in cooperation with main demand countries to dismantle criminal networks facilitating the lion and tiger trade.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Caribbean Flamingo. Claudio Contreras Koob

Four Vital Tips for Ethical Wildlife Photography

By Lisa Moore

Imagine yourself, camera in hand, suddenly spotting a grazing elk, a hummingbird feeding its chicks, a grizzly charging a rival or a bumble bee gathering pollen. You want the shot, but how do you get it without disturbing the natural behavior of the beautiful animal you're hoping to capture through your lens?

Keep reading... Show less
Benjamin Tupper

10 Facts About Pangolins on World Pangolin Day

By Elly Pepper

Do you know what a pangolin is? Where it lives? Why it's so endangered?

Most people don't. But World Pangolin Day, which falls on Feb. 17, is a great place to start. So here are 10 facts—some fun, some not so fun—about one of the world's most vulnerable but least-known species.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
themorningglory / Flickr

Household Products Cause as Much Air Pollution as Cars, Surprising Study Finds

Petroleum-based chemicals, such as those used in paints, cleaners and personal care products such as perfumes and deodorants, contribute as much to volatile organic air pollution in urban areas as cars and trucks, according to a new finding published in Science.

The consumer products emit synthetic "volatile organic compounds" or VOCs that contribute to ground-level ozone or small particulate pollution, causing asthma, lung disease and other serious health problems.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch

Trump EPA Slammed for Ag Giant's 'Absurdly Low' Pesticide Fine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement this week with Syngenta Seeds, LLC over violations of federal pesticide regulations at its farm in Kauai, Hawaii.

The company, a subsidiary of Swiss biotech giant Syngenta AG, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and spend another $400,000 on worker protection training sessions.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Female Bornean orangutan with offspring. Photo courtesy of Dr. Marc Ancrenaz

Ravaged by Deforestation, Borneo Loses Nearly 150,000 Orangutans in 16 Years

By Basten Gokkon

The world lost nearly 150,000 orangutans from the island of Borneo in the past 16 years due to habitat loss and killing, and is on track to lose another 45,000 by 2050, according to a new paper in the journal Current Biology.

The study, published Feb. 15, observed 36,555 orangutan nests across Borneo, an island that is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, between 1999 and 2015. During that period, the researchers reported a steep decline in the number of nests they encountered over a given distance: the encounter rate more than halved from 22.5 nests per kilometer (about 36 per mile) to 10.1 nests per kilometer. That decline, they calculate, represents an estimated loss of 148,500 individual Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus).

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, presenting board to Department of Interior leadership—Todd Wynn, director (left) and Tim Williams, deputy director (right) in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs. Surfrider Foundation

Coastal Recreation and Tourism Businesses Fight Offshore Oil Drilling Proposal

The Surfrider Foundation and leaders of the coastal recreation and tourism industry on Thursday presented Department of Interior representatives with a surfboard and letters signed by more than 1,000 coastal businesses and elected officials in opposition to new offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. From Florida to Maine and California to Washington State, businesses including restaurants, retailers, surf shops and hotels are expressing concerns that new offshore oil and gas development would be disastrous for coastal communities.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy

Renewables Now Contribute Nearly One-Fifth of U.S. Electricity Generation

Renewable energy now makes up 18 percent of total electrical generation in the U.S., roughly double the amount a decade ago, a new report shows.

According to the sixth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which outlines key U.S. energy trends, renewable energy output in the power sector soared to a record high last year and could eventually rival nuclear.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Snowshoe hares. L.S. Mills / Jaco and Lindsey Barnard

Animals With White Winter Camouflage Could Struggle to Adapt to Climate Change

By Daisy Dunne

Animals that turn white in the winter to hide themselves in snowy landscapes could struggle to adapt to climate change, research suggests.

A new study finds that declining winter snowfall near the Arctic could have varying effects on the survival of eight mammal species that undergo a seasonal color molt from summer brown to winter white each year.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!