The BBC just announced that "China has for the first time admitted that it permits trade in skins from captive tigers, participants and officials at a meeting of an international convention to protect endangered species have said."
“We don’t ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones,” a participant at the CITES Standing Committee meeting said. There are between 5,000 and 6,000 tigers are believed to be in captivity in China. There are believed to be double that living in backyards, basements, garages, tourist traps and other inappropriate places in the U.S.
Why? Because people from Tampa to Seattle will ignorantly pay to pet cubs, pose with cubs, or see cubs on display.
The cubs are only cute and handleable for a few weeks before their powerful jaws take on the strength to chomp through chicken necks, which are surprisingly similar to fingers. Then the cubs are discarded into the pet trade, warehoused or worse and become the smokescreen necessary for illegally poached tigers to be openly traded.
New York just banned the practice of allowing public handling of big cats and their cubs and there is a federal bill before Congress right now that has been spearheaded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and broadly promoted by Tampa's Big Cat Rescue. "This is a bipartisan bill that should be able to become law this year because everyone can agree that abusing big cat cubs is wrong," says Jamie Veronica, President of Big Cat Rescue.
Meanwhile, China's admission of trade in tiger skins, mostly for use in bribing government officials, it appears, is the wake up call necessary to make people take notice of the fact that tigers will disappear in the wild in our lifetime if we do not take action now to end the private possession and trade in tigers as pets, props and for their parts.