KUALA LUMPUR, July 30:
The future of tigers remains a big concern warns Traffic as many countries, including Malaysia, record an increase in seizures of tiger parts.
Statistics released in conjunction with Global Tiger Day are alarming.
Malaysia recorded a 6% increase in the 2010-2012 period with 18 seizures of tiger parts compared with 2000-2009 when there were 15 such seizures.
Out of this, only one seizure was a live tiger. The rest were just body parts.
The breakdown was as follows — bone and skeleton (1), carcass (1), claw or paw (2), skin or skin piece (2).
These, however, are cases that only Traffic, a wildlife monitoring network, is aware of.
According to Traffic, in 2010, Malaysia, along with 12 other countries, committed themselves to a Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP) , which aims to double the population of wild tigers by 2022.
One major goal of the 12-year programme is to effectively eliminate tiger poaching and trade.
The GTRP anticipates that tiger seizures may increase initially as the law enforcement effort is improved and scaled up, but by 2015 they should start to decline so that tigers and tiger products — parts and derivatives — are no longer evident in illegal trade.
Traffic attributes poaching, alongside habitat destruction and prey base loss, as the greatest threats to wild tigers today.
Poached animals are trafficked to supply persistent market demand for bones and other body parts. Many of these parts are used in traditional medicines. The pelts and body part,s such as teeth, skin and claws, are also used as decorative items.
A comprehensive report, co-authored by Traffic, was released this month looking at progress made by countries in implementing measures to protect the four species of Asian Big Cats —namely the tiger, Asiatic lion, leopard and snow leopard.
It revealed that parts of a minimum of 1,590 tigers had been seized in illegal trade between January 2000 and April 2014. This translated to an average of two animals per week.
“Overall, the estimated number of tigers represented by the seizures has grown since 2000, from below 100 annually to nearly 150 annually.
“With only 31% of these seizures taking place close to protected areas, it’s unclear how many of the parts seized in trade are from tigers of wild origin.
“But one thing is certain — that all international tiger part trade is illegal and threatens to stimulate a demand that would be devastating for the world’s wild tigers,” Global Tiger Programme Leader for Traffic and WWF Natalia Pervushina said.
The report urged countries to counter the growing use of tiger parts and derivatives as luxury items as a matter of urgency through targeted behavioural change intervention to reduce consumer demand.