WikiLeaks Cable Reveals Chinese Tiger Farms Catering to Consumption, Not Conservation

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.

Longyan Tiger Reserve

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.


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.

(Learn more about the rhino horn scheme here. Links to photos of the “rhino farm” can be found here.)

Image #1 By Eric Kilby from USA (YAWN Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons; #2 via Wikimedia Commons

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