Undercover visits to “tiger farms” in China confirm that these facilities have nothing to do with tiger conservation.
Although touted by China as “conservation”, the country’s notorious tiger farms are actually commercial enterprises engaging in the internationally banned business of selling products derived from tigers.
According to the WikiLeaks cable “Devouring Dragon, Disappearing Tigers: A Look at South China’s Tiger Farms and Reserves” dated July 12th, 2007, China’s so-called tiger conservation efforts appear to be little more than a camouflage for its lucrative market for tiger products.
Guilin Xiong Seng Tiger and Bear Farm
Posing as a Korean tourist, an American diplomat (referred to as “Econoff” in the cable) visited the Guilin Xiong Seng Tiger and Bear Farm in Guangxi Province.
During the visit, Econoff observed:
- Tigers being whipped and struck with a metal pole
- Tigers and bear cubs forced to perform in a “mock Chinese marriage procession”
- Tiger bone wine and powdered black bear bile for sale
- Four large vats “allegedly” filled with tiger bone wine
The diplomat was told by locals that tiger skins could be purchased by ordering in advance and that tiger meat was served “until recently” to visitors; however, this was denied by farm staff.
It was noted that in addition to more than 500 tigers, the “farm” was holding nearly 200 bears and a “small number of African lions.”
Sections of hair had been shaved off the bears’ torsos, presumably for bile extraction.
On an excursion to the Longyan Tiger Reserve, the “Korean tourist” saw a family of South China tigers stuffed and on display (three cubs and an adult) at the “inn” located on the property.
Tiger bone wine from Guilin was for sale at the inn.
The “reserve” claims to have 22 tigers onsite, and at least ten were seen by Econoff.
Staff at Longyan Tiger Reserved told Econoff they were not aware of any plans to “reintroduce tigers into the wild”, as claimed by supporters of China’s tiger farms.
A ‘troubling’ conclusion
The cable concludes with the comment that Econoff finds the “commercial nature” of the Guilin farm “troubling.”
The large number of endangered tigers and bears present with no current plans to reintroduce to them into the wild raises concern regarding the motivation of such a farm.
Indeed, these commercial enterprises have done nothing except undermine legitimate efforts to conserve wild tigers by encouraging demand for tiger parts.
Today, only about 3,200 tigers remain in the wild.
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC IMAGES.
Another disturbing development worth mentioning here: China has imported over 100 young rhinos from South Africa, as part of a multimillion dollar scheme to breed rhinos under the guise of “conservation.”
This scheme is already having a devastating effect on efforts to protect rhinos by encouraging the use of rhino horn – which actually has no medicinal value.
Image #1 By Eric Kilby from USA (YAWN Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; #2 via Wikimedia Commons
Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. She is the Editor of the blogs Annamiticus, Rhino Horn is Not Medicine, and Project Pangolin, a Producer for the upcoming documentary "The Price", author of the book "Murder, Myths & Medicine", and host of the "Behind the Schemes" podcast. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys rocking out to live music.