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Poaching meets huge demand for tiger products
New Delhi: Despite its large resources and efforts, the government has so far failed to eliminate illegal trade in tiger bones and skins. Major steps are needed to save the species from extinction.
APART FROM LOSS of habitat and natural prey, the most immediate threat that can push the endangered tigers to become extinct is the demand for tiger products, especially in the making of traditional medicine and apparels. Tiger parts are smuggled to China and other South Asian countries to meet this demand.
 
India holds 60 per cent of the world’s tiger population and thereby fulfills the large part of this demand. Despite its large resources and efforts, the government has so far failed to put an end to the illegal trade in tiger bones and skins.
 
The long spread protest against the usage of tiger skins in dresses, especially in Tibet, has reduced the number of buyers. But, it has failed to reduce the number of tigers poached in India because of an accelerated demand in China.
 
Chinese use traditional remedies made of tiger bones, rhinoceros horn, bear gall bladder, dried geckoes and many other animal parts. And, constitute the major buyers for tiger bones, skins, whiskers and other body parts. It is believed that at least 60 per cent of the Chinese population use medicines made of animal parts.
 
In many regions of China, use of tiger products and medicines is seen as a status symbol. And, tiger parts are considered a delicacy that is served at special private banquets. The concept of use of tiger parts in medicines is quite unfamiliar and confusing to many people. The concept is not novel, but has come into the limelight in the recent years with the improvement in the standard of living among the buyers of South Asia.
 
There is an increased demand for tiger products throughout the world. Other than China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the far eastern countries like the USA, Canada and the Europe are involved in the tiger trade. Further, Japan is believed to be one of the biggest markets for tiger parts. It is believed that one tiger is killed everyday to meet the demand of tiger products.
 
Even though many laws have been imposed in China and Japan to prevent the use of tiger parts, the situation remains unattended. In 1995, in India alone, parts from 50 different tigers were discovered. Since the tiger has become almost extinct in China, it is now looking out for new avenues for supply of tigers in Bangladesh and Nepal.
 

Apart from the Indian government, there are many NGOs working towards the eradication of illegal trade in tiger products. According to experts, the species will become extinct in the next five years, until major steps are taken.

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