Unfazed by global criticism, China is continuing the practice of breeding tigers in captivity to meet growing demand for tiger skin, nails and bones, an NGO has said.
The London based NGO, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has said in the report that "the Chinese government authorised trade has encouraged the poaching of wild tigers and undermines the international ban on tiger trade agreed by the majority of the world through the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)".
"The stark contradiction between China's international posture supporting efforts to save the wild tiger and its inward-facing domestic policies which stimulate demand and ultimately drive the poaching of wild tigers represents one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated in the history of tiger conservation" said Debbie Banks, Head of EIA's Tiger Campaign.
"Pro-tiger trade policies are championed by only a handful of officials in a couple of Government departments and it behooves China to vigorously address and terminate this intolerable disconnect between words and deeds which so undermines international efforts to save the tiger." she added.
As a Party to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), China is subject to CITES requirements, which include a strict prohibition on international commercial trade in tiger parts and derivatives.
CITES also calls for domestic trade prohibitions, the consolidation and destruction of stockpiles of tiger parts and products, assurance that tiger parts and derivatives from captive tigers do not enter illegal trade from captive-breeding facilities, and assurance that tigers are not bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.
Meanwhile, China has insisted that it has enacted laws and taken other steps to protect the wild cat.
"The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of endangered wildlife, including tigers," Hua Chunying, a spokersperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in Beijing while reacting to the report.
The EIA report also mentions that the policies in China are directly responsible for the growing demand leading to the problem of tiger 'farming' and the growth of the trade in countries like Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
According to the State Forestry Administration of China the captive tiger population in China has grown from fewer than 20 in 1986 to between 5,000-6,000 in 2013, spread across up to 200 'farms' and 'zoos'.
China's wild tiger population has fallen from 4,000 in the late 1940s to approximately 40-50 animals in the recent years.
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