Illegal Tiger Trade Must End
Tigers may soon disappear from the wild unless more effective efforts are made to halt illegal trade. Tiger numbers have decreased dramatically in recent decades due to poaching to supply the illegal trade in tiger parts.
Tiger bones and other parts are used in traditional medicines to treat arthritis and other conditions. And the animals' skins are used as clothing for certain cultural ceremonies and even as decorative objects such as rugs and wall hangings.
Fewer than 3,500-4,000 tigers are estimated to remain in the wild in Asia, the only region of the world where they exist. About 100 years ago, there were an estimated 100,000 tigers in the wild. The five existing tiger subspecies—the Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, South China, and Sumatran—all are critically endangered or endangered throughout their ranges. The Caspian tiger of southwest Asia, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger all became extinct in the last 50 years of the 20th century.
Today, most wild tigers live in India; smaller populations exist in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand and Viet Nam. Tigers have become extinct in at least 10 other countries. At an International Tiger Symposium held in Kathmandu, Nepal, in April 2007, experts from around the world reported that tiger populations remain in decline nearly everywhere.
A Neverending Battle Wildlife officers in countries where tigers live fight a daily battle against poachers.
Recently in Nepal, a wildlife smuggler was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Nepalese Rupees (US$ 1,591)—the maximum fine allowed for a wildlife crime in that country—after being caught in 2005 with five tiger skins, 36 leopard skins, 238 otter skins, and 123 kilograms of tiger bones.
The seizure, the largest of its kind ever made in Nepal, occurred thanks to the hard work and cooperation of two non-governmental organizations—Wildlife Conservation Nepal and the Wildlife Trust of India—and the wildlife authorities at Langtang National Park, Nepal, where the smuggler and his loot were found.
India, home to most of the world’s wild tigers, recorded 130 tigers poached between 1999 and 2004 (as compared to 82 known natural deaths), according to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.