Friday, 23 April 2010

Tiger Blogfest: Say NO To Tiger Farms!

In my February 25 blogpost on the Tx2 Outreach Programme at the Dong Zen Fo Guang Shan Temple Complex in Jenjarom, I had addressed the issues of wild meat consumption and what concerned citizens can do to help conserve tigers and tiger habitats.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness, many of the otherwise good-hearted people we encountered in the course of our outreach work are of the opinion that breeding tigers in captivity can help restore wild populations. Even our beloved Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, was of the opinion that establishing a “TigerPark” would be in the interests of eco-tourism.

For the purposes of the Tiger Blogfest, therefore, I would like to hold forth that Tiger Farms and Tiger Parks Have NO Conservation Value.

Tigers housed in battery farm cages in a tiger farm in China. Is this how we wish to see our tigers? (Photo credits: Save The Tiger Fund)

Here are some of the commonly-held beliefs about tiger farming, and facts that set the record straight:

Myth 1: Farmed tigers can be rehabilitated and released into the wild, thus ensuring the survival of wild tigers.
1. Wild tigers can be saved more easily and at far less expense by protecting the habitat and prey of existing wild tiger populations.
2. Most tigers on farms do not have the genetic pedigree for release into the wild.
3. Tigers in farms are bred to be docile with other tigers, making it likely that resident wild tigers, which are territorial, would kill any farmed tigers introduced into the wild.
4. To date, reintroductions of lions and other carnivores have failed and resulted in loss of human lives, livestock and the wildlife involved.
5. Due to their lack of fear of humans, captive-bred tigers would be easily poached.
6. A lack of fear of humans will make any farm-raised tigers released into the wild a menace to people.
7. Given good management, there are enough tigers left in the wild to ensure recovery of wild tigers. Indeed, they will "breed like cats" with adequate protection of habitat and prey, coupled with enforcement of existing laws.

Myth 2: Legal trade in farmed tiger products would decrease demand for parts of wild tigers.
1. There is no evidence to support such a claim.
2. Legalizing trade would ignite demand from former consumers and recruit new consumers, thereby increasing demand.
3. The bones of wild tigers are believed by some consumers to have more powerful health effects, making them more desirable and more valuable than farmed products.
4. Given the impossibility of distinguishing wild tiger products from farmed tiger products, stopping illegal trade in parts from wild tigers would be made far more difficult. Poached tiger parts could easily be ‘laundered’ and passed off as farmed tiger products.

Myth 3: Legalizing trade in farmed tiger products will decrease poaching of wild tigers
1. Poaching, smuggling and illicit trade are often run by organized criminal networks with large profit margins, and legalizing trade in products from farmed tigers is likely to create rather than end black market opportunities.
2. Tiger poaching will always be less expensive than tiger farming and, therefore, more lucrative.
3. Illegal tiger products cannot be distinguished from legal tiger products.
4. If trade in farmed tigers is legalized, poaching of wild tigers will increase, and scientific studies in Indiahave demonstrated that most wild tiger populations will not be able to withstand even small increases in poaching over time.
5.To decrease poaching of wild tigers, trade bans must be kept in place and better implemented with professional law enforcement efforts all along the trade chain, from forest to end-use market.

Myth 4: Tiger products are needed for human health and to preserve certain cultural practices.
1. Leading members of the global traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) industry say they do not need or want tiger products and that reopening trade in such products will damage the reputation of TCM. It is important to respect these wishes and views, particularly the efforts of TCMpractitioners to use alternatives to tiger bone.
2. Leaders of ethnic communities that have used tiger skins to adorn traditional dress are now encouraging their people to stop wearing the fur of tigers and other endangered species.

Tiger farm safari. Photo credits: Save The Tigers Fund. And no, we do NOT wish to have one of these in Penang!

Myth 5: Tiger farms and tiger parks will create employment opportunities and enhance local livelihoods .
1. The livelihoods that will be enhanced by legalizing trade in farmed tiger products are likely to be already-wealthy tiger farm owners and medicine manufacturers, or the criminal networks that will insert the parts of wild tigers into the market.
2. It is indeed important to work to enhance the livelihoods of the rural poor, but legalization of trade in tiger products will not achieve this. In India, the potential for many local poor people living near tiger reserves to base their livelihoods on revenue from tourist revenue and handicrafts is significant.
3. Smuggling of tiger parts and derivatives is a symptom of a lack of effective enforcement to stop transnational crime, which has negative social and economic implications. By commitments to cross-border enforcement efforts, governments will move a long way towards combating not just illegal wildlife trade, but other forms of serious crime as well

(Information compiled and extracted from:

What can you do to help tiger populations?

1. Obviously, by not buying tiger products such as fur, teeth, bones, claws and meat.

2. Live simply that wildlife may simply live. Reduce, reuse and recylce more and use less energy, water and fossil fuels. Conduct your due diligence before visiting places of interest or booking holidays that may feature wildlife 'attractions' such as tiger parks, tiger farms and photo opportunities with captive big cats.

3. Abstain from eating wild meat. Every kilogramme of wild boar and wild deer meat you consume means one kilogramme less for tigers. Driven to search for prey in livestock farms and near human habitations, tigers end up regarded as pests and this makes them vulnerable to being hunted and killed.

4. Did you spot a snare or wild animal trap on your recent camping/trekking trip? Please report it to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) or MYCAT. Contact info given below.

5. Do you know of any restaurants selling tiger meat? Then please make a phone call to the Tiger Crime Hotline and give them all the details you can. Don't forget to include the name and address of the restaurant. All calls are confidential.

Important numbers to remember:

MYCAT's 24-Hour Tiger Crime Hotline: 019 356 4194

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan): +603-90866800

Find out more by visiting!


Ellen Whyte said...

Good post Ee Lynn!

One caveat: I would rather have a series of tiger parks where we can put our zoo-bred tigers (assuming Park means a huge space with trees, grass areas etc) so we can get rid of zoo bred tigers living in cages.

Unfortunately too many people think they should be able to see animals when they visit. I'd rather see nothing and know that they're in there somewhere and having a blast.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Woe unto those who consume tiger meat. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I also hate those who keep tigers in cages. OMG! SO much hatred from me today. purrr....meow!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for your feedback, Ellen, Au and Target!

But you see, the trouble with zoos and wildlife parks in Asia is that many of them are laundering animal parts on the sly anyway! Pretend something died of disease. Butcher it. Sell it. Pocket the money. No one will ever be any the wiser. So the solution for me is always to:
(1) enforce a ban
(2) restore wild populations
(3) protect their habitats
(4) educate the public.

But yes, a park is still better than tiny cages in a zoo with stupid people clapping their hands and poking things through the bars to make the animals move.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-in-Sydney,

I hate them too! But you see, there are also arguments by wild/exotic meat consumers that we're all a bunch of hypocrites, as long as we continue battery-farming poultry and livestock and consuming them.

The solution would be to:
(1) Educate the public on the difference between wildlife trade and consumption and factory farming of domestic animals -- issues such as population decline, social needs and habitat depletion must be addressed.
(2) Improve factory farming conditions -- if we have to eat them, we owe them a better life.
(3) Make local communities stakeholders for wildlife populations.
(4) Get the medical and scientific community involved -- educate the public that there is no medicinal or health-giving value to wild meat, that it might in fact be harmful to human health.

It takes more than just emotions for us to win this battle, kitties. I am glad you are with us too.

Unknown said...

Poachers deserve hefty punishment - if they want to skin the tiger, we want them skinned too!

louis said...

Great fact-checking and a passionate case for tigers-in-the-wild.

Your cellphone camera sure yields very good quality photos. I do wish the iPad had a camera.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Keats,

Wow! Poetic justice! Tit-for-tat! But an eye for an eye and the whole world would go blind!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Louis,

Thank you for your encouraging words! Hope someone actually READS the post as opposed to just skim thru it!