Target: Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China
Goal: Revise loophole in ban on tiger bone trade that allows illegal poaching and trade to continue
A real estate developer in southwestern Guangxi, identified only as Mr. Xu, has confessed to charges of killing and eating up to three tigers in 2013. To satisfy his appetite for consuming tiger penis and tiger blood, Mr. Xu travelled to a neighboring province, where he was able to purchase three live tigers smuggled into the country from an unknown source and have them slaughtered. This incident reveals that the demand for tiger products, valued as status symbols and ingredients in traditional medicine, remains strong, a grave threat to the fewer than fifty wild tigers that remain in China, as reported by the Environmental Investigative Agency, a London-based advocacy group.
Along with fourteen other defendants, including one smuggler, Mr. Xu has been tried for his crime, and may receive ten years or more in prison. However, the serious legislative flaw that allowed him to commit this act in the first place must be addressed.
Despite the 1993 ban on trade in tiger parts, credited with reducing tiger bone in the legal market, more recent wildlife protection laws have made exceptions for trade in protected species, currently permitted in the interest of “scientific research, captive breeding, and exhibition,” according to a New York Times report. Enabling loose interpretations, the ban has made way for the breeding of nearly 6,000 captive tigers in breeding facilities throughout the country.
By signing the petition below, you can urge Chinese officials to clarify the terms of the ban and afford greater protections for endangered tigers. Your voice is vital to strengthening legal protections for these increasingly rare and beautiful animals and to halt the violence inflicted upon them once and for all.
Dear Chairman Zhang,
I am writing to bring your attention to the recent killing and eating of three tigers by a Guanxi businessman identifiable only as Mr. Xu. Although Mr. Xu has been tried for his crime and may serve ten years or more in prison, his prosecution still fails to solve the legislative flaw that allowed him to purchase and have the tigers slaughtered in a neighboring province, where they had been smuggled from an unknown source outside China.
While the 1993 ban on trade in tiger parts has been successful in reducing the trade in tiger bone, 1988 national wildlife protection laws afford meager protections for tigers, permitting trade in protected species in the interest of “scientific research, captive breeding, and exhibition.” Mr. Xu’s crime demonstrates the damage this ambiguous policy has inflicted on this critically endangered species. His actions also show the lack of a scientific needs-standard with which to justify trade in protected species. With fewer than fifty wild tigers remaining in China, I must stress that this complex issue necessitates your committee’s immediate attention.
I urge you to clarify the terms of the ban in order to stop the persistent violence against endangered tigers. More broadly, I encourage you to view this step as an opportunity to demonstrate that China, as a world leader, values its wildlife. By protecting these increasingly rare and iconic animals, you can remind us that stewardship of our planet is a noble mission.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: J. Patrick Fisher via Wikimedia Commons