Just one hundred years ago the tiger population was more than 30 times greater than today. There were at least 100,000 of these magnificent big cats living on our planet. But due to illegal trade in parts, poaching and the loss of their habitat the tiger population has been drastically decimated. As a result there are only approximately 3,000 tigers still existing today. The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species has listed tigers as an endangered species.
In an item in the Daily Star, the police in the Chinese port city of Zhanjiang in the southern province of Guangdong, recently reported that over ten tigers were tortured and killed in the country as visual “feasts” to entertain government officials and “fat cat” businessmen. In order to keep them acquiescent while they were being transported, the tigers were tranquilized. But upon their arrival they were carefully checked out to make sure they were alive before the “show” began.
In a raid in March this year, a freshly slain tiger was discovered by police as well as evidence of other killed tigers along with multiple tiger products, according to the Nanfang Daily, the mouthpiece of the provincial Communist Party. Additionally videos were found showing a tiger in a cage being slowly electrocuted prior to being dissected by a butcher. To escape police during the raid, a butcher, who was most likely responsible for killing more than ten tigers, jumped to his death.
But it’s not only this unspeakably inhumane and sick form of entertainment that makes the lives of tigers both in captivity and in the wild exceedingly dangerous. Tiger meat is greatly in demand, and extremely costly. Because it is considered a rare delicacy, business owners may seek to purchase it as very special gifts upon which to bestow on officials. Since tigers are strong and majestic animals their bones are presumed to aid in strengthening the body. Tiger bones have been an essential ingredient used in Chinese medicine for more than a thousand years.
Since the active ingredients in tiger bones are protein and calcium, those that practice Chinese medicine claim that they have anti- inflammatory properties. Also used in Chinese medicine are tiger whiskers, teeth and eyes to treat ailments such as insomnia, malaria, bad skin and meningitis. Although the word “tiger” has been removed from the list of official ingredients, there remains a heavy demand for these products. Tiger products are huge moneymakers. Tiger bones are extremely expensive. Just a little over two pounds of tiger bones are sold for an average of over $2,200. (£1,360)
Although Western medicine has proven beyond a doubt that aspirin produces the same beneficial effects as the Chinese medicine practitioners make preposterous claims from using ingredients made from tiger parts. according to the website, “Tigers in Crisis”. The majority of accomplished Western medical practitioners maintain that there are no curative powers in the claims made by Chinese medicine practitioners in the use of tiger parts to cure illness. Stores selling Chinese medicine in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and European and North American Chinatowns continue an on-going trade in tiger pills, powder, tiger wines.
Killing tigers as a sport to give thrill-seeking wealthy businessmen and officials an exciting side show is cruelty that is beyond unspeakable. The Chinese government must take swift action resulting in serious consequences which may help to put an end to these outrageous and despicable acts of brutality. But what will it take?
What do you think? Share your opinion in a comment.
- Sources: Tigers in Crisis, the Daily Star, ICUN Red List of Endangered Species