Tigers in Demand for Traditional Medicine in China

Does the world have enough tigers left to feed the unending and insatiable appetite of the Chinese people to consume it – yes, eat it – for medicinal purposes? I doubt it. All the time we are reminded of the impossibility of stopping this.

This website is blocked by China because I have consistently argued for a change within China by the authorities to curb the importation of tigers and the farming of tigers within China to supply the Chinese medicine market. The Chinese government does nothing to stop the trade in the importation of tigers and tiger parts despite being a signatory to CITES. CITES is an agreement amongst nations to stop this sort of trade. The reason is corruption and a lack of will to do the right thing.

Personally I can’t label health treatments that contain tiger bones and other tiger parts, “medicine”. It is pure quackery. No more and no less.

Tiger Bone Wine in a tiger shaped bottle. Photo is copyright by Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). They have not granted me permission to use the picture. I have asked twice. I am publishing it anyway because it is in the public’s interest.

Why am I back on this never ending subject? Well it is the depressing news that a consignment of 16 tiger cubs has been stopped by Thai police and the driver arrested. At least the Thai government is complying with their obligations under CITES (they have also signed up to the agreement).

The driver of the lorry that contained the 16 cubs in small crates, has been charged with the illegal possession and trafficking of an endangered species. As we know the tiger is highly endangered.

For the record, the lorry was stopped in Khon Kaen Province:


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The driver was on his way to the province of Udon Thani which is further north near the border with Laos. The tigers had come from Bangkok.

It seems they would have been taken to Laos and then to China. Laos has a border with China in the north. What is Laos doing about this trade? Laos is also a signatory to CITES. What good is that?

It shocks me that a driver thought he could drive a lorry load of tigers across the border to Laos. Clearly that border is porous and lacks proper controls.

A lot of conservationists are trying to save the tiger in the wild. They try and protect the tiger in reserves. Yet, the main source of the problem – the demand for tiger body parts – goes unaddressed by the people best placed to stop it: the government of China. Shame on them and the consumers of tiger medicine who are sadly so out of touch with reality.

Associated: Tiger bone wine and Tiger farms.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • Simply put, when it comes to animal cruelty and welfare in China it can be described in one word BARBARIANS.

  • I hate China - sorry, but i do. It's has a medieval attitude towards animals and not much better attitudes towards people. It's not surprising they all go to live elsewhere in the world. Let's hope they don't bring their animal practices with them. Of course they don't care, they don't really have any reason to. They are so far behind that the meaning of losing an endangered species obviously means nothing to them, literally nothing.

    • I hate their attitude towards animals and the country is the single biggest reason for the extinction of the tiger in the wild in my opinion. They have totally wiped out their tiger: the South China tiger. That was not enough. Now they want to eat their way through the Bengal tiger. Madness.

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