Friday, May 8, 2009

China: Factory Farming Tigers & Bears

ABC's TV show 20/20 is doing a segment on tiger farms tonight - but what they say might make you furious.

Factory farming of tigers in row after row of enclosures at the Guilin Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Farm, South West China.

ABC's TV show 20/20 will be doing a story tonight where their reporter, John Stossel, will suggest that tiger farming is a good idea.

Tiger farming is anything BUT a good idea. In fact, it's a very bad idea. IFAW exposed the criminal activities involved in tiger farming for trade and its devastating effect on wild tigers in this 2007 report: "Made in China-Farming Tigers to Extinction."

You might be asking why tigers would ever be farmed in the first place. Good question - and there's a simple answer:

Tiger farms exist to make money for wealthy businessmen who want to re-open the trade in tiger parts so that they can generate profits.

The businessmen who own tiger farms would like to fool us into thinking - as apparently they did Mr. Stossel - that tiger farming is the only way to save this doomed species.

Here's where their logic is dangerously off course:

Tiger farming actually encourages poaching. It's a simple case of economics:
Cost to farm a tiger = $4,000 to $10,000
Cost to kill a wild tiger = cost of a bullet

Which option do you think many providers of tiger products would prefer? The cheaper one, of course. So they'll hunt and kill wild tigers, and then sell the tiger parts at the same market where farmed tiger parts would be sold. Why wouldn't they? It's easy to see how tiger farming actually contributes to poaching, and could ultimately lead to the extinction of this majestic and vital species.

Tigers raised on farms never develop the skills they need to survive in the wild. How could they learn to hunt in the wild when they are hand-fed and kept in cages on a farm? Plus, tigers on farms are in-bred and "speed-bred" - tiger farmers even separate the baby tigers from their mothers early so the mothers can breed again. Again, tigers on farms are bred for profit, not conservation.

but here's where the story ultimately and dangerously misleads: the simple solution to saving wild tigers is not tiger farming - it's the strengthening and enforcement of existing laws.

Although there has been a ban in tiger trade for over a decade, it is not being enforced strongly enough. As long as these factory tiger farms are allowed to flaunt the law, wild tigers will remain perilously close to extinction.

I can't tell you how troubled I am that 20/20 would appear to side with this profits-at-all-costs approach.

Plain and simple, allowing the trade of parts from farmed tigers will generate profits for a handful of rich individuals - at the expense of wild tigers.

In the coming days I will update you on our efforts to save wild tigers, and let you know what you can do to protect this highly endangered and important species.

As always, thanks for your support,

Fred O'Regan
IFAW President

No comments: