France is Europe’s tiger abusing country?

COMMENT ON NEWS: I recently wrote about the tiger abusing countries of Asia. Laos (horror story), Vietnam, Thailand and China appear to be the big four countries where tigers are abused the most but in Europe we can add France. I was surprised. The news goes against the grain or our perceptions of France as a civilised country. And they like to believe that they are more civilised than any other country.

France's circus animals will be banned in a new law
France’s circus animals will be banned in a new law but the French will find other ways to abuse tigers. Picture: Pixabay.
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The po-faced holier-than-thou French who love their bureaucracy because it makes them more civilised (they think) are showing their true colours in allowing this abuse of the world’s most iconic animal. The more iconic an animal is the more likely it is to be abused by humans. And the French like sport hunting, particularly birds. It is the ignorant French farmers who are to blame. Enough France bashing…

An organisation called ‘Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’ have concluded that ‘France is home to a booming tiger trade’. They refer to an article by Oxpeckers – ‘Investigative Environmental Journalism’.

Oxpeckers say that tigers are big business in France. It looks like France is leading the way in Europe on big animal abuse. They report on a number of instances of people circumventing or avoiding the rules on keeping tigers. An example: an animal shelter containing tigers and lions which as open to the public where the public could be photographed with cubs. The tiger and lion cub selfies are an abuse of these vulnerable animals. This appears to have been a crass business of animal abuse masquerading as a shelter. The animals were eventually seized by the authorities.

Captive tigers are numerous in France; 635 tiger are registered on the I-FAP database at 22 Dec 2020. It is believed to be an underestimate as many animal trainers don’t register their animals said Christopher Coret, head of A Voice for Endangered Species.

Anyone can own a tiger in La France. They need a license and a certificate verifying that they have the requisite expertise and facilities. With these documents you are good to go. But is it enforced properly? I suspect not.

If you are in breach of the rules, on conviction there’ll be a max. one year sentence and a fine up to 15,000 euros.

In reality the existing laws don’t control the tiger trade sufficiently sharply. Sometimes legal tiger ownership is a cover for illegal trade outside the country. CITES is impotent as a world treaty to stop illegal wildlife trade.

Tiger farm
Tiger farm. Photo: Believed to be from the film The Tiger Mafia.

Four Paws spokesperson Kieran Harkin said: “Some European tigers are exported to Asia”. The Asians think that European tigers are of a better quality. They breed from them at tiger farms. There are 8,000 tigers at Asian tiger farms languishing in very poor conditions ready to be harvested for their body parts.

As is common across the world, there is a fad about tiger cubs. People are fascinated with them. The cubs fuel the illegal tiger trade. They are the starting point: selfies with tiger cubs. The cubs become adults and are killed for their bones and other body parts (almost all their body parts) to supply Traditional Chinese medicine.

The French government want to tighten up the law. A bill is being debated in the Senate which would make the purchase of reproduction of non-domestic animals in travelling circuses forbidden. There will be a wind down of circus animals over five years. Zoos are exempt.

The issue is that what will happen to the 500 circus tigers? They are expensive to maintain. There may be an increase in international trafficking after the law is introduced.

The men involved in making money from the tiger are already finding ways to get around the new law. Tigers are big business. They are iconic and admired. Humans always like to exploit and kill admired animals. It is a human trait.

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