Tuesday, November 16, 2010

“Reduced to skin and bones” shows tigers under pressure

The WWF, based in Gland, near Geneva, says the world’s endangered tigers remain under pressure, with India, China and Nepal showing the worst poaching problems. In the past century the number of tigers worldwide has fallen from an estimated 100,000 to just 3,200. The WWF is a member of Traffic (wildlife trade monitoring network), whose “Reduced to Skin and Bones” report released 9 November shows that “from January 2000 to April 2010, parts of between 1,069 and 1,220 tigers were seized in 11 of the 13 tiger range countries—or an average of 104 to 119 animals per year.”

The report is published ahead of a meeting at the end of November of heads of government of tiger range countries to sign the Global Tiger Recovery Programme, a plan that aims to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. The programme aims to push harder to reduce poaching and illegal trade, but also to reduce the demand for tiger parts.

Tigers are coveted for their use in traditional medicines, decoration, and as good luck charms.

Poachers sell “complete skins, skeletons and even whole animals—live and dead, through to bones, meat, claws, teeth, skulls, penises and other body parts,” says the WWF.

Pauline Verheij, joint Traffic and WWF tiger trade programme manager and an author of the report, says that “with parts of potentially more than 100 wild tigers actually seized each year, one can only speculate what the true numbers of animals are being plundered.”

India, which has the largest number of tigers, also accounted for the largest number of seizures, parts representing as many as 533 tigers, with seizures in China and Nepal accounting for nearly equal numbers of roughly 130 tigers in each country.

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