Breaking! FOUR PAWS’ New Report Exposes South Africa’s Key Participation In The Global Trade Of Live Tigers & Their Parts

A new report published by global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS on February 1st, the Chinese New Year ‘Year of the Tiger,’ reveals the extent of big cat farming in South Africa and how the country is contravening international wildlife trade agreements. The report states that the lack of effective regulations concerning the private breeding and commercial trade of live big cats from South Africa is perpetuating the illegal wildlife trade and contributing to the decline of big cat populations across the globe.

The report further emphasizes the need for global change to protect endangered big cat species like tigers from extinction. FOUR PAWS urges South Africa to end its big cat trade and reverse its role as an exporter of big cats and their parts.

The report includes Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) trade database analyses, Promotion of Access to Information Act requests to Government authorities, and a limited number of site visits to big cat breeding facilities. It reveals the extent to which South Africa has allowed the captive breeding of tigers for commercial trade in live tigers and their parts, while also stating that the number of tigers in South Africa remains unknown to the authorities.

“This commercial trade in tiger parts disregards agreements set out by CITES. Under the convention of CITES, parties have agreed on a decision that states that tigers should not be intensively bred for a trade in their body parts. It is clear that South Africa is overtly allowing tigers and other big cats to be intensively bred for a commercial trade in their body parts,” Kieran Harkin, Wildlife Trade Expert at FOUR PAWS and the principal author of the report, said in a statement.

According to Harkin, “This is unacceptable as the farming of tigers for commercial trade has detrimental effects on wild tiger populations. South Africa is playing a significant role in contributing to the decline of a species which is non-native to Africa. The country needs to shut down this industry to help reverse the decline of all big cats and not just the tiger.“

Captive bred live tigers and tiger parts are being exported from South Africa in high numbers, many of which are for commercial and personal purposes. Between 2011 and 2020, a total of 359 live tigers were exported from South Africa, primarily to Vietnam, China, and Thailand, known hotspots for demand in tiger parts and the illegal trade. Tiger trophies were the second most frequent tiger item to be exported from South Africa, with 54 tiger trophies leaving South Africa during this time.

Without effective regulation, illegal networks have been established and are prospering.

“Breeders, taxidermists, agents, slaughterhouses, and foreign buyers – to name a few – are all active in exporting live animals, big cat parts and derivatives from South Africa to known wildlife trade hotspots around the world,” noted Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa.

The new report also exposes the significant commercial trade in live lions, leopards, and jaguars from South Africa, and their parts.

“The lack of effective regulations, laws, and monitoring of the big cat trade in South Africa is sentencing these species to a life of commercial exploitation and to be killed so they can be used as luxury goods and in traditional medicine,” stated Miles. “The lack of effective regulations for species like tigers combined with the existence of a legal captive lion industry and bone trade, has allowed a legal industry to flourish, whilst also acting as a conduit for an illegal trade.”

“South Africa needs to end the commercial breeding of all big cats and stop the export and commercial trade in live big cats and their parts, including trophies. National legislation and international agreements should be re-examined since they are clearly not working,” concluded Miles. “We have a responsibility to protect our own threatened species and prevent the exploitation of non-native big cats. If we do not, we put all big cat species at risk of one day, only existing behind bars.”

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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