March 25, 2017

Another Five Tigers are Dead

Another Five Tigers are Dead

A tiger sleeps in a zoo. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Officials in Vietnam have just made a gruesome discovery: the carcasses of five dead tigers in a wildlife trafficker’s freezer. The internal organs of the Indochinese tigers had been removed, likely for use as ingredients in traditional medicine.

And there you have it. Despite heroic efforts by conservationists and wildlife officials across the region, the illegal wildlife trade carries on unabated. Vietnam remains a major transit point for the trafficking of tigers from across Southeast Asia and farther afield. Last May a Vietnamese man was arrested for trying to sell the frozen remains of four tiger cubs on Facebook.

Fuelling most of this deplorable trade in endangered animals are atavistic beliefs that falsely attribute medicinal properties to the body parts of “exotic” species. In China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and elsewhere the boiled bones of tigers ground and mixed with wine are widely on sale as medicine for arthritis and a variety of other ailments.

A mother lavishes attention on her cub. Photo Credit: Flickr

Unless drastic measures are taken tigers may be driven extinct from the wild within a generation. Only around 4,000 wild tigers are left roaming in increasingly diminished habitats, where they face existential threats daily in the form of poaching. A mere century ago, the planet still had 100,000 wild tigers. Since then the majestic predators have lost as much as 93% of their habitats throughout their natural ranges from Siberia to Bengal to Peninsular Malaysia.

Within the past few decades, three subspecies out of the original nine have already been driven extinct: the Balinese, Caspian and Javan tigers. Malaysia’s iconic Malayan tigers have managed to cling on, but barely just, with no more than 350 of them at most remaining in the wild.

Tigers may appear supremely powerful creatures, but they are defenseless against people who are out to harm them. Human greed, ignorance and cold-heartedness are driving these beautiful animals ever close to the verge of extinction. Meanwhile, captive tigers will continue to languish at so-called tiger farms, which exploit them as tourist attractions and secretly traffic in their body parts.

What can we do? Plenty. We must boycott all tiger farms and we must boycott all apothecaries that continue to sell medicines made from dead animals.

4 Comments so far

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  1. Cherie LeBlanc

    When is this disgusting and heinous act of cruelty to animals going to end?

    1. LaPlazza856Author

      Hi Cherie,

      Unfortunately, that will not happen until the demand for their parts ceases globally. However, we can all help make that happen by refusing to buy products that involve cruelty to animals or any form of animal exploitation.

      Clean Malaysia Team

  2. Alexandra

    How can tradition be stopped? Why is tiger-parts medicine so much entangled with Asian cultures? I get it that these cats are symbols of pride, strength and majesty so maybe there is the idea that consuming/owning parts of the beast can give people similar strength/power…. but how is it possible that nowdays with Internet and information in every corner there can still be so much ignorance out there? Or is it just for the luxury of owning tiger fur? Even in that case they could wait for the animal to die its natural death if there is such a strong need to have some symbol of power lying as a carpet on the floor…. But really those people trafiking in animal parts should be the first ones to support conservation of those species for the simple reason that if they keep killing them they will be out of business in less than a decade! That’s not a good business plan to be honest…!! I do not like nor support tiger farming for body parts but at least those animals weren’t part of the few remaining in the wild…. I rather see tiger farms than having poachers kill wild ones, successfully ending a species.
    I know this sounds a horrible thing to say but do I make sense to you?

    1. LaPlazza856Author

      Hi Alexandra,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The problem with tiger farms is that they continue to feed the demand for tiger parts. Theoretically, as you point out, so long as it’s captive tigers that die natural deaths that are used in traditional medicine, wild tigers should be safe. Sadly, however, that tends not to be the case. Because the demand for tiger parts continues to be great, poachers from Malaysia to Vietnam have an incentive to hunt wild tigers and sell them on the black market. You’re right to wonder how we could eradicate age-old beliefs in tiger parts across much of Asia. Often it does seem like an uphill battle.

      Clean Malaysia Team

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