13 April 2016
Delegates are attending the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation in Delhi, with over 23 NGOs and bodies wanting a commitment for zero demand for tiger parts in order to achieve zero poaching.
The Asia ministerial conference, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took place on Tuesday. More than 700 tiger experts, scientists, managers, donors and other stakeholders gathered to discuss issues related to tiger conservation. Ministers and government officials from all tiger range countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand, Vietnam, besides Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan also participated in the meeting.
The conference was co-organized by ministry of environment, forest and climate change, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), WWF and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).
"Conservation successes are visible in tiger range countries with enactment of strong laws and where wild tigers are valued for the role they play in the ecosystem, compared to those tiger range countries where 'tiger farming' exists and where they are valued as a commodity," the NGOs said. "It is time for tiger range countries to unite in a commitment to end tiger farming and to end all domestic and international trade in parts and derivatives of tigers from captive facilities," they said.
The signatories include Satpuda Foundation, Tiger Conservation And Action Trust (TRACT), Born Free Foundation, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Wildlife SOS India, Sanctuary Asia, The Corbett Foundation, BNHS India, Big Cat Rescue among others.
The NGOs reminded the conference that many facilities that keep tigers are engaged in legal and illegal trade, both domestic and international, in parts and derivatives of tigers. There are estimated 7,000 tigers in captivity in tiger farms in South East Asia and China — and there are no signs that these facilities are being phased out.
Chinese government allows domestic trade in the skin of captive-bred tigers for use as luxury home decor and for taxidermy. This stimulates the demand and increases pressure on the world's remaining 3,200 wild tigers.
"How can we expect demand-reduction campaigns to work in China if the government itself permits people to buy tiger skins," the NGOs asked, adding tigers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Russian Far East are still being targeted for markets in China and for Chinese consumers in Myanmar and Lao PDR.
There is also a thriving market in Vietnam and Indonesia. Tigers are not just killed for skin, but their bones are used to brew 'tiger bone wine', meat is sold as a delicacy and teeth and claws are sold as charms. "We collectively call on the conference to urge the countries with facilities which keep or breed tigers for trade to demonstrate genuine commitment to tiger conservation," the NGOs demanded.