A new report has quantified the illegal global trade in tigers and tiger parts over a 19-year period between 2000 and 2018. India has the world’s largest tiger population — 2,967 in the Tiger Census released last month — and the highest extent of tiger trade also happens in the country.
The new report has been compiled by Traffic, a NGO working in conservation and currently in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to the Traffic website.
What it found, how
Overall, a conservative estimate of 2,359 tigers were seized from 2000 to 2018 across 32 countries and territories globally. These occurred from a total of 1,142 seizure incidents, the report said.
Apart from live tigers and whole carcasses, tiger parts were seized in various forms such as skin, bones or claws. The report explains how the number of tigers was estimated from these diverse sets of seizures. For example, say three skulls and 74 claws have been seized. Given that one tiger has one skull and 18 claws, the skulls indicate at least three tigers and the 74 claws point to more than four tigers, so that the total haul would have come from a minimum of five tigers.
On average, 60 seizures were recorded annually, accounting for almost 124 tigers seized each year. The top three countries with the highest number of seizure incidents were India (463 or 40.5% of total seizures) and China (126 or 11.0%), closely followed by Indonesia (119 or 10.5%).
The India findings
While the latest census has put India’s tiger population at 2,967, the Traffic report uses the 2016 WWF estimate of 2,226, with India home to more than 56% of the global wild tiger population. India is the country with the highest number of seizure incidents (463, or 40% of all seizures) as well as tigers seized (625). In terms of various body parts seized, India had the highest share among countries for tiger skins (38%), bones (28%) and claws and teeth (42%).
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