Published 12 June 2007


CITES: DNA test confirms tiger meat for sale at Chinese farm

The Hague, The Netherlands, 12 June—The CITES governing body today announced it has asked the Chinese government to investigate a tiger farm implicated in illegally selling tiger meat.

Tiger meat was allegedly served in the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village farm restaurant © WWF/Canon/Homo ambiens-R.Isotti-A.Cambone

John Sellar, senior enforcement officer for CITES, visited the tiger farm in question, Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in Guilin, China, last month. He told the CITES meeting he was concerned about allegations by NGOs and the media that illegal trade in tiger parts is taking place from such farms.

Journalists from the UK’s Independent Television Network (ITN) visited the Guilin tiger farm undercover and were offered tiger meat at the farm’s restaurant. DNA analysis was carried out by an independent Chinese institution and confirmed the meat as tiger. 

The farm’s owner called the analysis fraudulent and is suing ITN for its report. Sellar obtained a copy of the DNA analysis and told the CITES meeting that the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Forensics Laboratory had reviewed the test and agree it “appears to be valid.” 

The International Tiger Coalition welcomed the news and urged China to investigate further reports of illegal trade by commercial tiger farms. 

Investors in commercial tiger farms in China are pressuring their government to lift its successful 14-year ban on domestic tiger trade. 

“We expect the issue to generate significant debate over whether China should continue allowing unlimited breeding of tigers by private owners, who then claim financial pressure and push to reopen trade to pay for their operations,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. 

Tiger farming will be discussed tomorrow by delegates from the 171 countries attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).