Illegal trade of body parts threatens tiger survival

An unprecedented increase in poaching and the international trade of tiger body parts is threatening the survival of wild populations of Amur and Sumatran tigers.

More than 30 Sumatran tigers and 30 Amur tigers are known to have been killed in their native habitats during the last twelve months, according to data gathered during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bankok, Thailand.

In Russia during 2012 there were a record number of confiscated tiger parts, belonging to 17-20 tigers, as well as a record number of tiger cubs representing at least four litters that had to be rescued from the wild their mothers most likely having been poached.

Sergey Berezyuk, Head of the local “Phoenix Fund” which works to protect Amur tigers from poaching said: “Since detecting poaching cases is extremely difficult, this number could represent just a small percentage of the actual number of poached animals. These numbers could be just the tip of the iceberg.

“Recent monitoring data suggest that tiger numbers are on the decline and these events suggest poaching is culprit. It is clear that the present population, probably fewer than 400 animals, cannot sustain these losses”.

In at least one National Park in Indonesia there has been more than a 50 percent increase in snares left by hunters over the past year; in another, conservationists estimate that at least 17 tigers have been killed.

Sarah Christie, tiger conservation expert at the Zoological Society of London said: “Most worrying of all are clear indications that the poaching is becoming better organized and more international in nature. It is crucial to maintain protection on the ground; but it is also important to tackle the demand for tiger parts, which comes primarily though not exclusively from China.”