More than a dozen leading NGO's including those from India today exhorted US President Barack Obama to raise the issue of trade in tiger organs in China when he meets his Chinese counterpart.
In a joint letter to the US President, NGOs urged Obama to impress upon China the vital need to take immediate action to protect the fewer than 3,200 wild tigers remaining across Asia.
"One of the most critical threats to the survival of wild tigers is trade in their meat, skin and bones to satisfy demand driven by wealth, rather than health - for high-status food, drink, home decor and even investment assets," the letter said.
"This demand is fuelled by a marked increase in tiger farms in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, where tigers are intensively bred for trade in their parts and products. China alone claims to house more than 5,000 tigers on farms," the NGOs said.
Among the signatories to the letter are Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue; Adam Roberts, Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation; Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust; Kedar Gore, The Corbett Foundation; Sally Case, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation; Debbie Banks, Environmental Investigation Agency; Iris Ho, Humane Society International/The Humane Society of the United States and Sean Carnell.
Other signatories are Kishore Rithe, Satpuda Foundation, Simon Clinton, Save Wild Tigers, Harshwardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust, Vicky Flynn, TigerTime, Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India and Biswajit Mohanty, Wildlife Society of Orissa.
The letter's signatories call on the US to urge China to destroy all stockpiles of tiger parts and products and review the current certification of China under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman's Act and urge it to phase out tiger farms.
Obama has also been urged to encourage US Congress to pass the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act so that the keeping and breeding of the more than 5,000 captive tigers in the US can be phased down.
"The continued fostering of a captive industry to supply a market for derived products only puts more strain on the ability of wild tigers to survive the 21st century," said Adam M Roberts, Born Free's CEO.
"This very market often perceives the wild counterpart as more powerful, virile or otherwise more desirable, so that wild tigers throughout their range continue to feel the heat and suffer sustained and potentially irreversible poaching," he said.