Poaching of tigers for the use of their bones in traditional Asian medicine may drive the tiger to extinction.

In the early 1990s, it was feared that poaching of tigers for the use of their bones in traditional Asian medicine would drive the tiger to extinction. Despite strong international action to eliminate it, illegal trade persists.

Tiger bone has long been considered to hold antiinflammatory properties for a range of purported uses including pain killers and aphrodisiacs, with some support from Chinese medical research, but many consider the effect to be more psychological than pharmacological.

Although all countries have banned use and manufacture of tiger bone, illegal production persists in several Asian countries, especially in China, Malaysia, and Viet Nam. In China there are several operations engaged in intensive breeding (“farming” of tigers), with the captive population reportedly reaching over 6,000. They are pressuring the government to allow them to produce tiger products, and several have already engaged in illegal production of tiger bone wine. Market surveys indicate that medicinal use of tiger bone has decreased since China banned tiger bone in 1993. Tiger farming perpetuates and threatens to re-ignite consumer demand. In 2008 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, (CITES,) adopted a Decision stating that “Tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.”

Image | © Mathias Appel, Public Domain, (CC0 1.0)
Sources | (Goodrich et al., 2015; Larson, 2006; Nowell, 2000, 2007; Nowell & Ling, 2007; Tilson & Nyhus, 2010; World Animal Foundation, Tiger, Tiger Fact Sheet)

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