Wildcats on Agenda at International Trade Talks

Some countries seek to relax rules protecting big cats, including tigers and leopards.

Posted: June 14, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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Delegates at the Convention of Int'l Trade in Endangered Species are trying to end the trading of tigers and tiger products
A two-story-high photo mosaic of a tiger, created from personal photos of nearly 25,000 tiger fans from 141 countries across the globe, was unveiled in the Netherlands to urge the international authorities to end tiger and tiger-products trading, according to the International Tiger Coalition.
A handful of proposals concerning wildcats currently are being discussed at an international conference on the trade of endangered animals in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Signatories of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty, are meeting in The Hague through June 15 to discuss possible changes to the treaty, which covers the trade of both live animals and animal products.

The United States delegation to the conference supports a general opinion that the signatories should “renew their efforts to eliminate elicit trade” in Asian big cats, specifically wild tigers. Despite several countries having stopped a downward population trend for wild tigers using anti-poaching units, the species are at a greater risk of extinction today than ever before, according to the CITES secretariat.

The Chinese delegation is expected to argue that tiger trading of farmed tigers and tiger products should be allowed, but opponents are concerned that any market for tiger-based products creates a market for wild tiger-based products.

The International Tiger Coalition, a group of 35 pro-tiger conservation groups, wants China to close its commercial tiger farms instead.

The tiger farms currently keep about 5,000 tigers, and the farmers want the Chinese government to lift a 14-year ban on the trading of tiger bones (used in traditional medicines) and other tiger products within China, the coalition reports.

The United States expects to oppose a pair of changes that would increase hunting of leopards in Mozambique and Uganda.

Mozambique wishes to double its export quota of leopard hunting trophies and leopard skins for personal use to 120. The United States opposes the proposed hunting increase because Mozambique’s proposal lacks sufficient biological information about its leopard population, and the interrelated prey population, to demonstrate existing populations could be sustained, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Similarly, Uganda would like to ease protection for leopards to allow 50 leopards to be hunted each year for trophies and/or skins for personal use. But like Mozambique’s proposal, the Ugandan proposal does not clearly demonstrate that its leopard population could be sustained under eased restrictions, the United States contends.

Among proposals supported by the United States delegation is the decision to continue a review of the Felidae family, particularly various lynx sub-species, until the next time the 171 signatory countries meet in about two years.

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Reader Comments

Samantha    Edmonton, AL

6/15/2007 12:21:36 AM

i hope that the animals that need the protection like the tigers and other big cats are preserved so that they will be here for generations to come it would be sad to see them on the extinct list and forgotten too soon as they are all beautiful creatures that we would sorely miss.

Stephanie    North Richland Hills, TX

6/14/2007 10:40:42 AM

It's good to see the US is taking animal issues seriously. I'd like to know what more we as individuals could do.

Sheryl    Casa Grande, AZ

6/14/2007 10:36:31 AM

I hope the time comes when NONE of the big cats are hunted and their body parts sold for human gain and greed! These cats are in crisis. The world cannot afford to "bargain" with their survival.

Nikki    Chicago, IL

6/14/2007 8:28:16 AM

It's scary these people run countries and think this is okay without any research *at all* Personally, any legislation used to *increase* killing of any creature without SOME thought as to how it will effect our enviornment is beyond irresponsible. For TROPHIES??? Sorry, my answer would be NO

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