Captive tigers and their parts are substantially traded, both legally and illegally, within and out of the European Union. But there are serious issues with regulations and management:
- EU wildlife trade regulations do not prevent the commercial trade, even though the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) opposes the commercial breeding and trade in tigers for their parts.
- Member states do not have an accurate overview of captive tiger populations nor do they restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers as recommended by CITES.
The unnecessary commercial trade provides ample laundering opportunities for illegal trade in an endangered species. With only 3,900 tigers left in the wild, the EU must play its role in preventing the extinction of the species.
- Give captive-bred tigers the same protection as tigers from the wild and prohibit the commercial trade
- Leave exceptions for non-commercial exchange between genuine sanctuaries and between legitimate zoos for breeding programmes with conservation benefit
What you can do as an MEP?
The Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the revision of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking in 2021 will provide excellent opportunities.
As an MEP, you can show your commitment to better protect tigers and address areas for improvement in the two aforementioned regulations.
We are thrilled that the following MEPs that have already signed our pledge:
- Anja Hazekamp, GUE/NGL, Netherlands
- Martin Hojsík, Renew Europe, Slovakia
- Eleonora Evi, Greens/EFA, Italy
- César Luena, S&D, Spain
- Sirpa Pietikäinen, EPP, Finland
- Yannick Jadot, Greens/EFA, France
- Manuela Ripa, Greens/EFA, Germany
- Anna Cavazzini, Greens/EFA, Germany
- Piernicola Pedicini, Greens/EFA, Italy
- Niels Fuglsang, S&D, Denmark
- Clare Daly, GUE/NGL, Ireland
- Michal Wiezik, EPP, Slovakia
- Francisco Guerreiro, Greens/EFA, Portugal
- Pascal Durand, Renew Europe, France
- Manuel Bompard, GUE/NGL, France
- Marisa Matias,GUE/NGL, Portugal
- Aurore Lalucq, S&D, France
- Grace O'Sullivan, Greens/EFA, Ireland
Animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS has documented illicit tiger trade activities throughout the European Union; traders and zookeepers were recorded discussing ways to circumvent CITES and EU regulations, for example by using different purpose codes to facilitate obtaining permits and falsifying the birthdate of tiger cubs to enable a quicker sale of the cubs. The most recent FOUR PAWS report Europe’s second-class tigers also revealed that between 2014-2018, 18 live tigers and 1,804 tiger parts or derivatives were seized.
CITES Decision 14.69 recommends that parties shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers. FOUR PAWS’ research included the submission of Freedom of Information requests to 28 EU member states¹ and eight neighboring countries in an attempt to obtain the numbers of the captive population, and whether there is any obligation to centrally report the births and deaths of the animals. Only 17 countries (of which 13 EU member states) replied with numbers, nine did not reply at all, and 10 replied but were unable to provide numbers. The authorities that did respond report a total of 913 captive tigers. These numbers do not depict the reality since 19 countries (of which 15 EU member states) were unable to share numbers.
Despite this lack of accurate overview of the captive tiger population, member states continue to issue trade permits for live tigers and tiger parts under the CITES code ‘T’ for commercial purposes. Without proper monitoring, commercial trade provides ample laundering opportunities for illegal trade in an endangered species.¹ FOUR PAWS’ research included the submission of Freedom of Information requests to 28 EU member states - Only 17 countries (of which 13 EU member states which included the UK as EU member at the time of research) replied with numbers