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Trade In Tiger Parts

Although the hunting of tigers is illegal in most places around the world, it is still happening on an ongoing basis as the demand for tiger parts continues to increase.

In fact, this is the greatest contributor to the tiger’s threat of extinction today. And it does not only affect the tiger.

Rather, there are a number of animals that are in high demand on the black market, including bears, rhinoceroses and even geckos.

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Image of butched tiger
Butched tiger: Image source:

It has been established that the majority of Chinese people use medicines containing the parts of animals like tigers in the firm belief that they hold medicinal value that surpasses the effectiveness of more mainstream medicines.

As the economic conditions of more of the people have been improved, a far greater number of people can now afford such specialised remedies, which means that the demand for these products has escalated even more.

Today, this industry is valued at about $6 billion per year.

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Unfortunately, even non-Asian communities are now learning about the perceived medicinal value of tiger parts, and the products are even more in demand than ever before. The cultural pride that enforces this tendency in China and similar countries is being overtaken by a distinct distrust of Western medicines. As a result, traditional medicine is actually increasing its use of animal parts.

Buying tiger parts is also seen as a symbol of wealth and high social standing. It is part of the culture of the Far East; an important aspect of their identity.

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Currently, it is estimated by The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) that at least one tiger is killed for use in traditional Chinese medicine every day. The main countries that are involved in the illegal trade of tiger parts are The United States of America, Great Britain, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Japan has the biggest market currently and, although the technical laws forbid such trade, there are loopholes for items that contain traces of tiger products (such as powders and pills, for example).

In China, Hong Kong is the main importer. In fact, this hub alone accounts for more than half of the country’s total turnover per annum.

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Today, one kilogram (or 2.2. pounds) of tiger bone sells for up to $400, while a pair of eyes can be bought for around $200. A pound of powdered humerus bone (which does not even equal half a kilogram) is an astonishing $1 500 in Seoul. There are shops in England that sell products (mainly medicinal) containing tiger parts. This shows that the trade is not limited to Asia, but is becoming a global problem.

The number of tigers being killed on a regular basis to fulfil the demand for tiger parts cannot be accounted for accurately, since it is illegal and, therefore, done under the radar of the authorities.

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Trade in tiger parts poses a massive threat to the tiger population of the world. In only a few years, it is believed that every last tiger will have disappeared, largely as a result of illegal hunting on the part of mankind. The laws that are in place are not completely effective in crushing the demand for such parts or for dissuading hunters from killing these magnificent predators.

If you would like to play an active role in the preservation of the world’s tigers, see:

Or write a polite letter to the Chinese Ambassador and email it to the relevant email address for your country (found on

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