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Grace Ge Gabriel: Exactly. So there’s a lot of money involved in that. An additional quarantine period follows. The tiger bones are boiled down until they form a glue-like substance, which is then dried in cake-like blocks from which shavings are mixed with wine and consumed. Can these tigers be released into the wild? Laurel Neme: Have scientists found that it is true that it does help, or has there been no evidence yet, or has it not been studied? These are pretty big corporations… [At one] tiger farm there are 400 huge vats, each containing a tiger carcass. The profit margin for poaching is much, much higher than farming a tiger. As I said the tiger’s range has shrunk to less than 7 percent of it’s historical domain and a lot of its habitat is cut-off, fragmented, by agriculture development activities, and so that is one of the big threats to tigers. There is no scientific base for any of these. A lot of this is really promotion. Other parts, like its whiskers, are worn as talismans or protective charms or used to sooth toothaches. And another threat is loss of prey. Laurel Neme: Why is that? And so at that conference, China’s declaration of possibly lifting the trade ban had got the world worried. For centuries, tigers have inspired awe, reverence and sometimes, terror, in the humans they’ve lived beside. She's worked with jaguar researchers in the Brazilian Panatanal, with park guards in India's Kaziranga National Park (the last outpost for Indian one-horned rhinos) and in tiger reserves across the subcontinent. Laurel Neme: Where are they and what are the remaining subspecies? Tiger skins can come from either the wild or from captive-breeding farms in Asia. Grace Ge Gabriel: There are two animals in Chinese culture that are very, very significant: one is the dragon and one is the tiger. None of these applications are based in science or medicine. Saturday, Feb. 6, he reports to his club, where he'll be required to undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival. Demand for some of the most highly prized items, including rhino horn, pangolin scales, and tiger parts, has nearly hunted these creatures off the planet. And so at the CITES 14th Conference of the Parties, CITES Parties agreed to a series of decisions, one of which was to urge parties not to breed tigers for the trade of their parts or derivatives. Laurel Neme: And what has happened since then? Tiger bones in China fetch as much as $70,000. After joining IFAW in 1997, Grace established the IFAW China office which was the first and only animal welfare organization operating in Mainland China. Three thousand years ago, for instance, Chinese medicine’s Materia Medica included tiger bone as an ingredient for treating illnesses such as rheumatism. Nearly every part of this cat, from nose to tail ‎ (eyes, whiskers, brains, flesh, blood, organs and more) has been used to treat a lengthy list of maladies. Laurel Neme: Is it even possible to distinguish between farmed tigers and wild tigers in the trade? Laurel Neme: I wanted to get back to the issue of enforcement. They [also] use tiger whiskers, or tiger claw, or tiger penis for sexual powers. The first tiger farm was established in northeast China in 1986, 13 years after the international ban on commercial trade in tigers. Talking Tigers: Part 6 of a 12-part series For centuries, tigers have inspired awe, reverence and sometimes, terror, in the humans they’ve lived beside. The Bengal tiger is the most common subspecies of tiger, constituting approximately 80% of the entire tiger population, and is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, and India.It has been hunted in these countries for … Laurel Neme: So how many tiger farms are there and how many tigers are in them? While these tiger farm businesses, while they are already selling tiger bone wine, they are also lobbying the Chinese government to lift the trade ban. It goes back at least as far as the Roman Legion, where soldiers wore tiger’s eye jewelry into battle for protection and courage. Tiger bones and nearly all body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine for a range of purported uses, including pain killers. So these tigers, if they are released, most likely they will go into the surrounding communities and pose a threat to people and to livestock, which means death to them. Having decimated their own sources, Far Eastern traditional medicine manufacturers are now targeting India for their supply of tiger bones. Tigers in Asia have ... Every part of the tiger, its bones, claws, hides, and teeth have been used in alternative medicine preparations, especially Chinese traditional medicine. [Because] the TCM market has been reduced, now they are creating another market for a new product. They have been trying to kill as a group, but tigers are solitary predators. But it wasn’t until the early 1990s that field biologists and conservationists realized that TCM was responsible for what had become a precipitous decline in tiger numbers. Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) spoke with Laurel Neme on her “The WildLife” radio show and podcast about tiger conservation the international trade in tiger parts, and how the booming industry of tiger farms in China is killing to make a living. To learn more, visit, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. But since the 1990s China has banned the use of tiger bone in traditional Chinese medicine and has taken tiger bone off the Materia Medica and also taken off tiger bone off of the traditional Chinese medicine college curriculum. They’re also used to treat rat bites and laziness and are thought to prevent possession by evil demons. Grace Ge Gabriel: According to Chinese government documents that they submitted to CITES right now there are over 6,000 tigers in various farms. By looking for alternative ingredients you need to know what actually is contained in tiger bone. The sad truth is that tigers in the wild are going to be extinct within the next couple decades if trends continue the way that they are. Why are they poached so much? It is part of the Asian culture, and it’s not just Chinese. But the market slipped underground and shadowy networks still thrive. They also force and train a lot of these animals to perform. In the 1990s, when the trade ban was first put into place, I think at that time even the Chinese government started a public awareness campaign and putting the “do not buy tiger products” on the labels of a lot of TCM products and organizing education conferences with the TCM industry. Grace Ge Gabriel: There has been some public awareness. The tiger is a species that only existed in Asia. These two are in conflict. Non-native tigers are also bred in battery-style cages before being killed for body parts that will be used in Chinese medicines. Labels may picture a tiger,  bottles may be tiger-shaped, but the word “tiger” has disappeared from packaging, replaced by “lion” ingredients—or it’s called “bone-strengthening wine.” Without DNA tests on any bone bits that might have remained in the liquid, there’s no way to know what exactly it’s made from, but ongoing media reports coming out of China document dealers offering tiger bone wine to customers. You raise a tiger on farm, it costs thousands of dollars—to feed this tiger meat, enclosure costs, the staff costs, the people costs—versus hunting and killing a tiger in the wild. Asian Tigers . Tiger sanctuaries selling bone for Chinese medicine against international law. Laurel Neme: What are conditions like at those farms? Laurel Neme: And can they also claim that the animals died naturally and so they are using a byproduct? What are humans doing to help? And another more direct and I believe a more menacing threat to tigers is poaching of tigers for the trade in parts and derivatives. In one of the efforts since China banned the use of tiger bone in TCM, it looked for alternative ingredients. Explanation: Traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years has used the strength of the tiger to cure various physical and spiritual ailments. In China, huge industrial-style big cat farms have row upon row of tiny cells, each housing a miserable lion or tiger. For millennia, medicine men have ascribed magical powers and medicinal properties to them, and somehow, this cat became a universal apothecary. Their goal is to raise our population back to normal . It is used to treat rheumatism and head aches. The Chinese government believed that this would satisfy the demand for medicinal uses of bear bile without impacting China’s wildlife. China formally banned domestic trade of tiger bone in 1993. Tiger Balm is a brand-name topical medication used to alleviate pain. A huge pipeline was shipping wildlife to East Asia, especially China, the trade run by international crime syndicates—and driven by monstrous, staggering economics. However, in the past few years, and I think it coincides with these farms are getting so many tigers and they are pushing the government to lift the trade ban and there haven’t been any public awareness in China done by the government for at least for the last 5-6 years. And so I guess I wanted to talk about both regular enforcement issues and also why isn’t there enforcement to shut down tiger farms? They hired locals to hunt the cats or act as guides, then ran the parts and pelts over borders to Chinese TCM manufacturers and dealers. It grew out of … The most common use of tigers in Vietnam is to make tiger bone medicine, a form of traditional medicine used for the treatment of bone or joint-related ailments such as arthritis. It’s very significant. Poachers kill us for our bones, which are used for a traditional Asian medicine. But the humerus is the most coveted section of a tiger skeleton: That upper front leg bone is believed to contain the most potent healing powers. 10. They command the Asian landscape as the top predator—immense, magnificent, muscular animals armed with razored claws and massive canines. Laurel Neme: Has it stopped the practice? In 1986, China’s People’s Daily newspaper reported that 116 factories were producing medicinal wine. A standard oral dosage for rheumatic pain is three to six grams a day. Log in, register or subscribe to save articles for later. So at [the March 2010 CITES] Conference of the Parties, … EU has put in a proposal to strengthen the CITES conference resolution 12.5 by including some of the languages adopted as a decision at the last conference…. Grace Ge Gabriel: Well I think a lot of it is, well, it is true… A whole tiger pelt can be sold for US$30,000. She’s also been involved in projects to conserve Asian elephant habitat, provide emergency relief to animals in disasters, and helped establish China’s first raptor rescue center. Grace Ge Gabriel: Yes. It has now been established that the trade in tiger bones, destined for use in Oriental medicine outside India's borders, is posing an even larger threat. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of corruption and protection of local business. The hu gu (Mandarin for bones) are the parts that are most highly prized in Oriental medicine, a favored treatment for rheumatism and arthritis—and for impotence and flagging libido. I’ve often heard that a tiger is often worth more dead than alive because the parts are so valuable. More tigers in captivity than in the wild, new report highlights. Weird enough, tiger penis is used as an ingredient for soup and is regarded as an aphrodisiac. The front humerus bone is said to be most highly valued for its strength in traditional medicine (Chan, 1995)." But the real big farms—there are about five big farms. Tigers are often poached for their parts, used in traditional __chinese_____ medicine. Initially, tiger parts came from  huge local stockpiles. Tiger bones are highly sought after for use in medicines and health tonics. In the modern world, over 90 medicinal products are sold in China and beyond that contain seahorse parts. 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