Tiger range countries roar with one voice on trade controls
Doha, Qatar, 21st March 2010—Tiger range countries, including China, reached a strong consensus at the CITES Conference in Qatar on the way forward to address pressing concerns of illegal trade threatening wild populations of Tiger and other Asian big cat species. The 13 range countries, with support from the CITES Parties, also agreed to continue with measures to address farming of captive populations, and stop breeding of tigers for trade in parts and derivatives.
A significant market for tiger products persists in China, but commitments from the Chinese government and traditional Chinese medicine associations point the way forward to making effective interventions to reduce consumer demand and stop illegal trade.
In January this year, China’s State Forestry Administration issued a Directive which reaffirmed its policy regarding Tiger conservation and regulation of trade in tiger products, including control of existing farming activities. The Directive restates China's commitment to stopping illegal Tiger trade, which includes the maintenance of a domestic ban in place since 1993 to prohibit trade in Tiger bone.
Immediately prior to the CITES Parties meeting in Qatar, the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) announced in Beijing their commitment to tiger conservation. The WFCMS, which has 195 member organizations in 57 countries, urged its members not to use tigers and other endangered wildlife species in traditional medicine.
Following substantive consultations in Doha between Tiger range countries and the EU, the Tiger range countries agreed on a strengthened platform to control illegal trade in Tiger and other Asian Big Cats.
Amendments to an EU document calling for strengthening of an existing CITES Resolution on trade in Asian Big Cats include improved reporting by the range countries on the conservation of, and trade in, Asian big cats; the establishment of regional enforcement networks; and the setting up of a database for Asian big cat trade.
The revised Resolution also urges CITES Parties to contribute financial and technical assistance to enable the range countries to implement the Resolution.
In addition, CITES Parties have agreed to continue with work begun at CoP14 in 2007, under a series of CITES Decisions which will remain in force. Most significantly, this includes a focus on restricting any commercial-scale captive breeding populations to a level only supporting wild tiger conservation, and preventing any farming of Tigers for trade in parts and derivatives. But it is important to note also that Decisions on supporting regional law enforcement networking, and promoting the connection between the revised Resolution and domestic tiger trade control policies, have also been extended by consensus.
At CoP15, CITES Parties were also urged to support and participate in international conservation programmes such as the Global Tiger Initiative, which along with the Russian Government, is the driving force behind the Global Tiger Summit will take place in September 2010 in Vladivostok. The Summit will bring together Heads of State of range countries and interested donor countries to push for firm commitments on the protection of tigers against poaching, habitat loss, human encroachment and illegal trade.
“The strengthening of the CITES framework, combined with the commitments made by the Chinese government and other range countries provide the foundation necessary to make the Global Tiger Initiative deliver on its potential,” said TRAFFIC’s Pauline Verheij.
“If the global community is to save the tiger from extinction, we need to work together with China and the other range countries to reduce the demand for illegal tiger parts and products, protect the last remaining tiger habitats from poaching and human encroachment, and to ensure that traders benefiting from illegal trade in tiger and other Asian big cats are brought to justice.”