Published 21 May 2009


Boycott illegal trade, protect our wild tigers

Beijing, China, 21st May 2009—“Boycott illegal trade, protect our wild tigers” is the key message of a consumer campaign launched today in China by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. The campaign will see an animated film “Tiger Evolution Ends—Don’t Let This Be the End” screened on Beijing’s Line 1 and 2 subway trains from tomorrow, International Day for Biological Diversity. 

The film depicts millions of years of Tiger evolution ending when the Tiger is poached to create a bottle of Tiger-bone wine. 

“Thousands of commuters will not only learn about the very real threat to wild Tigers from poaching, but also how to react—by rejecting illegal Tiger products,” commented Professor Xu Hongfa, co-ordinator of TRAFFIC’s China Programme. 

Over the last 60 years, trade in Tiger parts, loss of habitat and mass killing of Tigers and their prey, have led to the extinction of three Tiger subspecies. 

A fourth subspecies—the South China Tiger—is perilously close to extinction. Just 40 years ago, there were more than 4,000 South China Tigers in the wild. 

Today, there are probably fewer than 4,000 wild Tigers left worldwide. 

“Whether or not Tigers continue to survive depends entirely on human behavior. Each consumer should firmly reject any purchase of Tiger products and protect our national icon,” said Professor Xu Hongfa.

2010 is the traditional Chinese Year of the Tiger. 

“Tigers are mighty, majestic, and command our awe and respect. But the situation is critical—unless people firmly reject the purchase of Tiger products, it could mark the last Year of the Tiger where wild Tigers still survive,” commented Professor Xu Hongfa.

“When an important species like the Tiger becomes extinct or significantly depleted, it devastates the balance of the whole ecosystem,” he added. 

In 1975, the Tiger was listed as a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), leading to an international ban on trade in Tiger parts. 

To help such Tiger conservation efforts, China banned the domestic trade in Tiger bones in 1993. China also removed Tiger bone from its Pharmacopoeia of ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine and carried out public awareness campaigns and educational activities to seek out and promote alternative ingredients.

Such measures are having an effect: in 2008, TRAFFIC surveyed markets in major cities of western China and found the availability of Tiger products had decreased significantly since 2005. 

“However,” warned Professor Xu Hongfa, “illegal trade is still not eliminated. Until it is, the future of the Tiger hangs in the balance.”