Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Popular

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pangolin hunting for ants. 2630ben / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Alexander Richard Braczkowski, Christopher O'Bryan, Duan Biggs, and Raymond Jansen

Pangolins are one of the most illegally trafficked animals on the planet and are suspected to be linked to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Humpback whale splashing in the North West Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts. Tim Graham / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

In a move that environmentalists warned could further imperil hundreds of endangered species and a protected habitat for the sake of profit, President Donald Trump on Friday signed a proclamation rolling back an Obama-era order and opening nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of New England to commercial fishing.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy way to incorporate vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants into your diet.

Read More Show Less
These 19 organizations and individuals represent a small portion of the efforts underway to fight racism and inequality and to build stronger Black communities and food systems. rez-art / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg

Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, people around the United States are protesting racism, police brutality, inequality, and violence in their own communities. No matter your political affiliation, the violence by multiple police departments in this country is unacceptable.

Read More Show Less
Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less

Trending

Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less