(*Photo by Tamboko)
As the American media continues its big fuss over the overblown Tiger Wood’s apology interview, I thought I’d share a friendly PSA on a tiger story worth talking about: namely the extinction of the gorgeous and powerful species, Panthera tigris.
Here in China the “Year of the Tiger” celebrations have really put these big cats in the spotlight, as tiger paraphernalia such as tee-shirts, mugs and hats are sold as gifts to ring in the New Year and bestow luck upon receivers. But amongst all of the tiger-hype, a dirty little fact still stands: these felines are quickly going extinct and Chinese consumers play a major role.
The New York Times reports that the biggest threat for tigers in China is the robust market for its parts. Bones, furs, skins and “tiger-tonics” are among the items that make a dead tiger, a good tiger. Despite bans imposed by the Chinese government in 1993, the poaching and selling of tigers and their parts still remain a lucrative trade via the many “tiger-farms” scattered across the Mainland. And in case you’re wondering, a “tiger-farm” isn’t a cutesy petting zoo for these endangered species. Posing as tiger conservation camps, these farms actually raise tigers to be killed and consumed on a mass scale. So the next time you visit the tiger “zoo” in China, think twice about that gorgeous cat behind bars…because he may just be the next merchandise sold in the gift store.
So tigers in cages remain ultimately doomed in China. But what about the lucky ones roaming in the wild? Well, for starters, there’s only about twenty of them left. And since “wild” tiger parts are twice more profitable than “mass produced” parts, this small group seems destined for the same fate.
I conclude Foreign Exposure’s first-ever PSA with some numbers… because in the end, the top “Tiger” stories have always been about the numbers:
- Of the 9 subspecies of modern tigers, 3 are extinct and the remaining 6 are classified as endangered.
- 3,200 wild tigers remain in the world.
- 1,400 wild tigers live in India – the world’s largest tiger population.
- 20 wild tigers roam China.
- 1,500 tigers live in the largest “tiger-farm” in China—many in small cages without trees.
- $1,000 USD is the price of a single tiger paw sold in “tiger-farm” gift stores.
- “Save the Last 5,000 Tigers” was a slogan used during the last “Year of the Tiger” in 1998. (See bullet point 2).
- 624,000 is the number of times that Tiger Woods slept with a woman other than his wife.