I have joined the Indo-British All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in parliament to support their calls to end the trade of big cats for ‘traditional medicines’, ‘luxury home décor’ and ‘jewellery’.
Fewer than 4,000 wild tigers survive in the wild, and the species has already been hunted and traded to extinction across much of its natural range, particularly in South East Asia and China. Wild tigers are on the brink of extinction in China.
Other big cat species are poached for the same markets as tiger products – their body parts may be falsely sold to consumers as tiger or as cheaper alternatives. Asia’s leopards have disappeared from 85% of their historic range, and seizures from illegal trade shows a minimum of 5,203 Asian leopards have been killed for trade since 2000 – the true total is likely many times higher. Snow leopards, clouded leopards, lions and jaguars are also being killed for trade.
Illegal trade is exacerbated by the widespread availability of the parts and products of captive-bred tigers, of which there are over 6,000 in China, many held in inhumane conditions at ‘farms’ established to breed them for their body parts. Tiger farms offer zero conservation benefit; instead, thanks to consumer preference for wild tiger products and higher potential profit margins from trafficking wild big cats, tiger farms have helped maintain demand for wild tiger.
I have called on the UK Government to raise the issue with the Chinese Government at the highest levels, including in the forthcoming economic strategic dialogues.
The trade of big cat products is deeply upsetting. To see these magnificent creatures being eliminated from the world for items used in ‘traditional medicines’ is heart-breaking. Moreover, those who buy tiger parts as status symbols are completely wrong in their outlook. It is far more impressive to see these creatures in their natural habitat than it is on someone’s wall or as part of jewellery.
I have joined with the All-Party Parliamentary Group in Parliament to sign a pledge that calls on the UK Government to press all nations to bring an end to this horrendous trade. It is estimated that we have fewer than 4,000 tigers living in the wild. This number should act as a wake-up call for the world. We cannot continue to see species become extinct for our enjoyment.
The work of charities is much valued in bringing an end to this trade. If we ever are lucky enough to holiday where tigers are found it is of the utmost importance that people do not visit tiger ‘farms’. They are places of pain and suffering for the animals and only ensure that the demand for big cat products grows. The UK Government needs to use its power and influence to bring an end to this horrific practice and save our big cats.