CITES 2016 Update

After years of campaigning there has been some good news in the fight to end the trade in tigers. 

China stood alone 
During discussions at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), India, Nepal, the USA, EU and Lao PDR overruled a proposal from China to delete a Decision to end tiger farming. China stood alone in suggesting that the Decision, which states that "tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives", should be "retired".

With so few wild tigers remaining, and with populations functionally extinct in some range States the conservation of wild tigers requires action to end all trade in tiger parts and derivatives, and reduce and eventually eliminate demand for these products. Trade in parts and derivatives of captive bred tigers continues to be a threat, perpetuating the desirability of tiger products and stimulating poaching of wild tigers and other Asian big cats. Undeniably, wild tigers are doing best in range States where they are not considered a commodity and where they are not bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.

Lao PDR want to phase out tiger farms 
Following on from a Ministerial announcement last Friday, the delegation from Lao PDR elaborated on their government's intention to work with technical experts to phase out tiger farms. Lao PDR is the first of the tiger-farming countries to declare their intention to finally implement CITES Decision 14.69. While welcoming this announcement, werecognise that Lao PDR is home to transnational organised criminal networks that are exploiting weak legislation and enforcement. A significant investment of political and financial commitment to root out corruption and complacency is essential to turn these positive words into positive action for tigers.

More scrutiny of tiger farms and sharing of seizure data 
Also approved at CITES were a suite of Decisions that will continue a thorough review of efforts to improve legislation and enforcement, and will put facilities that keep and breed tigers and other Asian big cats for commercial purposes under greater scrutiny. Additionally, there was support in principle for a proposal from India which encourages countries that make seizures of tiger skins to share photos of these with range states, to facilitate investigations into the origin of the skins. 

These are positive steps but we have to keep raising awareness 

CITES recommendations still need to be supported:

  • Countries are to ensure that their legislation prohibits domestic trade, including in parts of captive bred tigers
  • It requires those who are currently trading to report the scale of that trade
  • It requires countries to report on the volume of existing stockpiles
  • It requires countries to destroy the bodies of deceased captive tigers

Help us demonstrate how important we feel these recommendations are to the survival of the tiger.

Why signing up is important

By signing the BanTigerTrade petition you will help protect wild tigers by calling for an end to policies and practices that stimulate demand for tiger parts and products, and thus stimulate poaching. You will also be helping us raise expectations with regards to the implementation of international resolutions and commitments and to stop stimulating the demand in domestic and wild tiger parts through compliance with international guidelines and resolutions (CITES, GTRP).

The stimulation of the demand of tiger products stems from these main sources: Tiger "farms" - Trade in parts and products of tigers that have been bred in captivity takes place in China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In China domestic trade is legal and skins of captive bred tigers from "zoos" and "farms" can be traded as luxury home décor, so long as they have been bred legally, are processed by a licensed company and come with a government-issued permit. In Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, trade in parts and products of captive-bred tigers is illegal. Tiger farming does NOT stop the illegal killing of wild tigers. In fact it has the opposite effect stimulating wider demand for tiger parts from ALL sources and undermining international efforts to put an end to the tiger trade.

The illegal trade - The tiger (Panthera tigris) is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means that CITES prohibits the international trade in specimens of tigers. The trade of tiger products/parts is illegal and while news on seizures and arrests is available, there is little information to determine the success in most tiger range countries relating to meaningful convictions, the use of specialised investigation techniques, the sharing of intelligence or other indicators of effective enforcement. We need to raise the bar in what is considered an enforcement success and help tiger range countries move towards that. When Parties can report on these indicators, we know we will be on the way to actions that will dismantle the criminal networks that control the international illegal trade. 

Phase 1

Phase 1 of the BanTigerTrade Petition asked for supporters to sign the petition to "appeal to the Premier of China, Wen Jiabao to send a clear message to his government, calling for an end to all tiger trade within China. This is to include a call for a zero tolerance policy applied to all trade of all tiger parts and derivatives of tiger and other protected Asian big cats, from all sources."

The petition was handed to the Chinese Embassy in London and although their response was largely generic, we will not stop our fight to save the wild tiger.