Barbara has called for urgent action to end the killing of tigers and other big cats by halting trade in their parts and products.
On Wednesday Barbara attended an event co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG) and the Indo-British All-Party Parliamentary Group, along with wildlife campaigners from the Environmental Investigation Agency. Barbara expressed her deep concern about the existential crisis facing the world’s tigers and other big cats which are killed to meet a demand for body parts.
There are now fewer than 4,000 wild tigers. The species has been hunted and traded to extinction across much of its natural range, particularly in South-East Asia and China. Asia’s leopards have disappeared from 85% of their historic range while seizures from illegal trade show a minimum of 5,203 Asian leopards have been killed for trade since 2000 – sadly the true total is likely to be many times higher than this figure.
All big cat species are being killed to meet demand for body parts for use in products such as traditional medicines, luxury home décor and jewellery.
There is a particularly large demand for big cat products in China where the law allows the sale of products made from big cat body parts including tiger skin rugs from captive-bred or ‘farmed’ tigers and traditional medicine products containing leopard bone. This legal trade sends a message to consumers that these products are acceptable and it provides opportunities for criminal networks to launder illegally sourced big cat parts.
In China there are 6000 captive-bred tigers which are held in inhumane conditions at facilities established to breed them for trade in their body parts. This situation offers no conservation benefit to wild tigers. Instead the commercial breeding helps to maintain a consumer demand for wild tiger products leading to higher potential profit margins from poaching and trafficking wild big cats.
At the Parliamentary event, Barbara signed a statement to pledge her support. The statement said:
We are very concerned that illegal killing, driven by demand for their parts and products, is threatening the survival of wild tigers, leopards and other big cats. Losing these species would be an incalculable loss to communities and cultures worldwide, as well as the ecosystems upon which all life depends.
We call upon all governments worldwide to help end the demand for big cat products which is driving this killing, including by:
- Banning all sales of big cat parts and products, including from captive sources
- Ending breeding of big cats for trade in their body parts, which has not lessened pressure on wild populations but has instead stimulated demand
- Destroying stockpiles of big cat parts and products
- Investing in demand reduction programmes
- Supporting the Government of India’s recommendations to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for urgent, time-bound actions to tackle killing and trade of big cats.