A new report by a wildlife campaign group has found that there are double the number of tigers that are currently in captivity than those that are left in the wild.
There are an estimated 7,000 captive tigers in the United States and about 1,600 more in Europe while there are just 3,900 tigers left in the world, claimed the report from Europe’s Second-Class Tigers that was published earlier this week.
The abuse and exploitation of tigers in captivity in Europe and the US have also been documented in the report.
“The trade in captive tigers dead and alive is a very serious problem,” Kieran Harkin, the head of Wildlife Animals in Trade at Four Paws International, the organisation that published the report, said.
“Our investigations reveal how captive tigers in private ownership, zoos, circuses and self-proclaimed ‘sanctuaries’ in Europe, are traded, bred and exploited. They’re used as playthings, for selfies and as circus performers,” Harkin added.
“And when the animal becomes too big, they are worth more dead than alive. The trade in tigers and tiger parts for the production of ‘traditional medicine’ in countries like Vietnam and China is very lucrative,” Harkin said.
With 180 tiger sin captivity, the Czech Republic tops the list for the number of captive tigers in Europe. It is followed closely by Germany, which has 164 tigers in captivity while the United Kingdom has 123 such captive tigers. UK allows tigers to be kept in captivity by private citizens.
A tiger captive-bred in Europe can attract up to $24,000 to export, found investigations conducted by Four Paws. The market price for one kilogram of tiger bones is almost $2,000, it added.
The shadowy network of traders and breeders operating in Europe has laso been documented by the report, which claimed that social media and public websites are openly used by such traders to conduct trade in the animal.
It highlights European “Joe Exotics” (a main character in the Netflix series) who operate facilities in Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France and Malta.
“Not only do captive tigers stand no chance of being rehabilitated into the wild, their trade also fuels the poaching of the few remaining wild tigers in the world,” Harkin said.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, wild tigers are listed as Appendix 1. It means that conducting international commercial trade is generally prohibited. However, under the same convention, captive tigers are listed in Appendix 2 which grants legality of commercial trade of such tigers and the trading is monitored very loosely.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)