13 Jun 2007
On the eve of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) international conference in Nepal, to be attended by 171 countries, the CITES governing body has asked the Chinese government to investigate a tiger farm in the country accused of illegally selling tiger meat.
The International Tiger Coalition welcomed the news and also urged China to investigate reports of other illegal trade by commercial tiger farms. In the meantime, investors in commercial tiger farms in China are putting pressure on the national government to lift its 14-year ban on the domestic trade in tiger parts.
In 1993 China banned the sale of tiger bones, believed to have special healing qualities and used to treat everything from skin disease and convulsions to laziness, malaria and rheumatism. Tiger penis is said to be a powerful aphrodisiac and tiger urine used to be used in the kitchen as a marinade.
The meat from the incriminated tiger farm was allegedly being served at the restaurant in the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in Guilin. The allegations that the restaurant had tiger on the menu are based on a Chinese genetic laboratory report on a sample of meat commissioned earlier this year by Britain’s ITN television news. At the time the farm’s owner called the analysis fraudulent and threatened to sue ITN.
However, when John Sellar, the senior enforcement officer for the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), sent a copy of the report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Forensics Laboratory, it was confirmed that it had been properly carried out and that the results matched tiger DNA.
When confronted with the DNA evidence confirming that the meat served at the zoo was tiger, the owner vehemently denied serving such meat in his restaurant. An ironic final twist to the story is that he made his angry outburst while attending the CITES conference on saving the tiger in Nepal.
International Tiger Coalition
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