EMBARGO TO 00:01 BST on THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2012
CALLING ‘TIME’ ON TIGER FARMS AND SKIN SALES
China & others urged to take action to help wild Asian big cats
LONDON: Countries with operations farming tigers and other Asian big cats must shut down such facilities and destroy stockpiled body parts and derivatives.
And China – which has the world’s greatest number of tiger farms – must terminate its ‘legal’ domestic trade in tiger and leopard skins as an indication of genuine commitment to ending the tiger trade and reducing demand.
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is submitting both calls to the 62nd meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), in Geneva, Switzerland from July 23-27.
Under CITES regulations, operations to breed tigers and other Asian big cats are restricted to the purposes of conservation; CITES specifically states ‘tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives’.
However, some tiger farms in China are understood to be stockpiling skins and bones, fuelling speculation that some of these ‘products’ may be leaking onto the market and that they are being held in anticipation of a ‘legalised’ trade.
As well as in China, there are tiger farms in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos; traders and operations in these countries have been caught engaged in international illegal trade within SouthEast Asia.
In addition, EIA is asking CITES to urge China to comply with the letter and spirit of earlier resolutions by withdrawing its controversial scheme allowing trade in the licenced skins of captive-bred tigers and leopards.
“China has very publically committed to international efforts to double the world’s wild tiger population by 2022, with Premier Wen Jiabao promising the 2010 International Tiger Forum in Russia that his country would ‘vigorously combat poaching, trade and smuggling of tiger products’,” said EIA Head of Tiger Campaign Debbie Banks.
“But these words can only ever be toothless platitudes so long as China officially sanctions the trade in skins of captive-bred animals. It’s a policy that completely undermines commitments to demand reduction.”
EIA is also calling CITES to remind parties of their obligations to formally report on all Asian big cats, not just tigers, and to set a new deadline for all range and consumer Parties of Asian big cats to provide the information required for INTERPOL to conduct a full analysis of trade.
Interviews are available on request: please contact Debbie Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7354 7960.
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals
2. Read EIA’s full briefing to CITES SC62 at http://ow.ly/cjSFd
3. The EIA report Enforcement not Extinction: Zero Tolerance on Tiger Trade outlines EIA’s recommendations for urgent actions to reverse the tiger’s decline http://www.eia-international.org/cgi/reports/reports.cgi?t=template&a=210
4. EIA has previously written to China seeking clarification over the 2007 skin registration scheme and raised questions about it from the floor at UN meetings, but China has failed to respond.
5. The International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg resulted in the adoption of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) http://www.globaltigerinitiative.org/download/St_Petersburg/GTRP_Nov11_Final_Version_Eng.pdf
January 6, 2012
Three new films following EIA investigators undercover around the world have now had their premiere screenings on either National Geographic Channel or Nat Geo Wild in the US, Asia and the UK, and are currently airing for the first time in Australia and New Zealand.
It took a lot of preparation and work behind the scenes with Red Earth Studio, the London production company which made the documentaries, to plan and execute field successful investigations in six countries to expose and follow the chains of evidence which revealed the role of Vietnamese military in smuggling timber from neighbouring Laos, Iceland’s hunting of endangered fin whales for export to Japan and China’s profiteering on ivory it purchased at auction from African stockpiles – but the end results are certainly worthy of the effort.
Here are just a few of the comments our supporters have made about the films:
“Very good program and investigation!! Congratulations” – Federico Zemino
“Good job guys … your investigation in Japan so brave” – Darmawati Thalha
“Cried most of the way through it – very hard to watch but has to be done. Harder for you guys to have to film it, though. Thank-you for all you do” – Marilyn Charters
“This was a very disturbing exposé of the Icelandic whaling industry and the drive of one man, Kristjan Loftsson, to open up and expand a market in Japan for the endangered fin whale” – Paul Welch
“Thank you for your tremendous efforts! We are behind you all the way!” – Linda Curbello
“The human being should be more careful. Nature is a great treasure” – Olga Carrascal
“Watching your programme on Nat Geo Wild.Very interesting and important work. Well done!” – John Curran
“What a shocking documentary about whaling and timber smugglers last night! Good job!” – US environmental club Ekhoar
“Wow! Watched some deeply moving TV tonight. Thank-you for that!” – Michelle McElroy
“Captivating triple premiere on Nat Geo Wild’s Crimes against Nature!” – Andrey Kushlin
As well as rolling out into general rotation on Nat Geo’s channels in the future and so helping to keep the issues and the valuable work of EIA in mind, these documentaries will also serve as vital campaigning tools which allow us to get our concerns across to decision-makers in a compelling and easily digestible form.
The feedback we receive, such as the comments above, is important too as it allows us to pass along to relevant parties a snapshot of people’s reactions to the environmental criminality we regularly expose.
If you’ve seen any or all of the films, please take a moment to tell us, in the comments section below, what you thought about them and the impact they made on you.