Monday 27 September 2021

Body parts of America's 10,000 tigers end up in China in their medicine

Tigers are still "the chosen one" for wildlife traffickers. There are many other animals which are also abused and used but I would suggest that the tiger is the number one product to be sold. And the number one consumer is China. I'm told that the Chinese government realise that traditional Chinese medicine doesn't really work but they allow the businesses to flourish in the interests of trade and keeping the peace. 

Tiger found in Houston residence was taken to a rescue facility
Tiger found in Houston residence was taken to a rescue facility. Photo: Godofredo A Vasquez/AP.

The trouble is that President Xi has no concern about wildlife conservation and in particular the tiger population which is being decimated by Chinese traditional medicine due to poaching. Yes, China has a large number of tiger farms where tigers are treated as livestock, like cows, but when you treat tigers like that you inevitably devalue their status in the world to the point where there is illegal activity in obtaining tiger body parts from other parts of the world. Tiger farms muddy tiger conservation.

It is estimated that there are10,000 tigers in America because America has either none or very lax tiger ownership regulations across their 50 states. The rules do vary between states but, for example, in nine states there are no permit or licence requirements whatsoever. In general, the requirement is very simple, a USDA conservation label form and a $30 licence according to The Guardian newspaper.


And because there is such a vast number of tigers in captivity in America (about three times the number of wild tigers across the entire planet) when they conveniently disappear, as many do, you can probably assume that their bodies and body parts are being shipped out to China in illegal activity to be turned into Chinese traditional medicine. Tiger body parts are enormously valuable.

Tiger penis products?
Tiger penis products? Photo in public domain.

The authorities in America, through primarily the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, store about 1.3 million confiscated animal products but they say that this is the tip of the iceberg. They confiscate about 10% of all goods that pass through US ports. It's a losing battle it seems to me.

ASSOCIATED: Picture of seven frozen tiger cubs for Asian body parts market

John Platt, the editor of the Revelator, the media partner of the Centre for Biological Diversity said: "I would not be surprised if US tigers were turning up in China."

He suggested this because so many big cats in the US disappear, he said. There is a huge black market because the financial value of tiger bone and tiger penises (as two examples) is high. In a capitalist society where business is governed by market forces, if a product is valuable, businesses find a way to produce it or farm it and sell it internationally, if needs be. 

That's why I think we can say with some confidence that many of the 10,000 tigers in America end up in the form of body parts in Beijing, China. It is an unedifying thought. Humankind has debased and degraded the mighty tiger to a consumer product, no more. 

Pink tiger bone jewellery made by deboning a living tiger
Pink tiger bone jewellery made by deboning a living tiger. Photo: The Tiger Mafia (believed).

The animal is worth more dead than alive and when they are farmed in China, they live miserable lives before slaughter. Some have their bones extracted while they are alive! It's a complete failure of conservation even if 3,500 Bengal tigers are still in existence in India and Bangladesh. There used to be 100,000 of them at the turn of the 20th century.

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