An estimated 8,000 tigers still inhabit semi-legal tiger farms in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, where they are displayed to visitors, fattened up for meat and then slaughtered for their skins, bones and body parts, according to an academic article published on Wednesday.
Featured in academic news outlet The Conversation and written by Simon Evans, Principal Lecturer in Ecotourism at the UK’s Anglia Ruskin University, the piece analyses how in many areas of Asia tigers are no longer even valued as wild animals, but merely as the raw materials for high-end luxury products.
This extractive mentality is most visible in the approximately 200 tiger farms scattered across East and Southeast Asia, which may hold more than twice as many tigers than are left in the wild. Such facilities effectively divide the animals’ life cycles into 3 phases, according to Evans: breeding, performance -for paying visitors eager for selfies- and harvest.
“It really is big business with massive profits attached,” Evans told OCCRP. “Tiger bone products are by far the largest income generator… particularly for traditional medicines, with tiger bone wine [being] the most lucrative”.
The full article was published by OCCRP on February 26, 2021.