China’s tiger parts ban here to stay, officials say

MEPs welcome news, but call on China to enforce ban more stringently

Brussels, 4th June 2007 — China has announced a reversal in position and agreed to maintain the 14-year-old ban on trade in tiger parts. Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Deputy Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, said the news was excellent, but called on the Chinese government to stop turning a blind eye while local officials allow the ban to be flouted.

The Chinese government had announced it would seek to lift the ban at a UN meeting on Sunday, June 3. Under fierce pressure from tiger farms - which have been stockpiling tiger parts in preparation for the trade’s resumption – the government has argued the current ban has cost their economy £2 billion and done little to stem the fall in tiger numbers across Asia.

Tiger products like bone have medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, but there are a significant number of Chinese medical practitioners who say tiger bone can be substituted by other animals.

Chinese forestry authorities have now pledged to support the ban. Liu Xiongying, spokesman for the State Forestry Administration, told China Daily: “China will strengthen the crackdown on illegal trade in tiger parts and forge cooperation with other countries to protect tiger habitats.

Sir Robert said:

“China has made the right decision. Now that China will no longer challenge the ban we would expect some strong action to ensure it is not flouted. The ban will only be effective if enforced at all levels and particularly in the animal parks that have been stockpiling tiger parts.

“Wild tiger populations in Asian forests could be as low as 5,000 compared to 100,000 a century ago. Lifting the ban would have wiped out the few wild tigers remaining. Meanwhile tiger farms – many of which have already clandestinely flouted the ban - would have turned one of nature’s most magnificent animals into little more than cattle.”

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