In an unprecedented move, major environmental organizations, namely the WWF, Environmental Investigation Agency, Panthera, Wildlife Justice Commission, and Four Paws, have joined hands to devise a strategic plan aimed to put an end to the captive breeding of endangered tigers. The collaborative report throws a special spotlight on South Africa, a formidable figure in the realm of tiger farming, and proposes ways to phase out this practice.
South Africa's Role in Tiger Farming
South Africa's involvement in tiger farming is significant yet shrouded in mystery due to the absence of adequate protection legislation for these exotic animals. Trade statistics paint a startling picture: between 2011 and 2020, South Africa exported 358 live tigers along with countless body parts, primarily to Vietnam, China, and Thailand. Some of these exports were even labeled as 'trophies'.
Government's Inconsistencies and Controversies
Adding to the confusion, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy's statements in Parliament have been marked by inconsistency. On one hand, she acknowledges the existence of 70 facilities housing tigers in the country; on the other, she denies the export of tigers for commercial purposes. This dichotomy indicates a lack of clarity in South Africa's stance on tiger farming.
'Roadmap to Closing Captive Tiger Facilities of Concern'
The report titled 'Roadmap to Closing Captive Tiger Facilities of Concern' underscores that tiger farming is not merely an animal welfare issue but also stimulates demand for tiger products, thereby posing a grave threat to the survival of wild tigers. Moreover, these operations are often linked with illegal activities and conservation problems. The report advocates for the phasing out of captive tiger facilities of concern and advises against the establishment or expansion of new ones.
South Africa's Move Against Captive Lion Breeding
The Department of Environment in South Africa is already taking significant steps to phase out captive lion breeding, a move which could serve as a blueprint for the cessation of tiger farming. If successful, this could mark a significant stride in the conservation of these majestic creatures and an end to the animal welfare issues plaguing tiger farms, including indiscriminate breeding, overcrowding, and inhumane slaughtering practices.