The announcement was made during the 67th Meeting of the Standing Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), ahead of the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Tiger farms and captive tiger facilities in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and, especially, China have long been a source of tiger skins, bones, teeth and claws – a trade which perpetuates the desirability of tiger products, adding intolerable pressure to the world’s remaining wild tiger populations.
Investigations by Education for Nature Vietnam, Environmental Investigation Agency and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand have documented how weak legislation, poor enforcement capacity and cooperation, have enabled Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese criminal networks engaged in tiger farming and trade, to operate with impunity. A series of recommendations from the CITES Secretariat at this meeting, call for urgent measures to improve the law enforcement and criminal justice response to illegal wildlife trade in Lao PDR. The Secretariat notes special concern at the lack of enforcement at places like the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone.
The statement by H.E. Mr Sommad Pholsena, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, that they “we are looking for ways to phase out tiger farms”, signals a shift, but there is much to be done to convert words in to action. If the Minister invites international technical experts to assist with an audit of tigers and facilities and the development of a phase out plan, it would put Laos streets ahead in implementing CITES measures to end tiger farming.
All eyes now are on China, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries with tiger farms. Will they follow suit and finally commit to ending tiger farming?”