Behind rusted bars, a skeletal male tiger lies panting on the filthy concrete floor of his cage, covered in sores and untreated wounds. His once-fearsome body is so emaciated it is little more than a pitiful pile of fur and bones.
Death is surely a matter of days away and can only come as a welcome release. Wardens at the wildlife park in southwest China say, indifferently, that they do not expect him to see the start of the Year of the Tiger which began last Sunday.
‘What can we do?’ a female park official asks a small huddle of visitors with a sigh and a casual shrug. ‘He’s dying, of course, but we have to keep feeding him until he does. It’s against the law to kill tigers.’… Read More Exposed: Dark secret of the farm where tigers’ bodies are plundered to make £185 wine
On February 14th the Chinese will be celebrating their New Year’s Eve and in the Chinese Zodiac 2010 falls in the Year of the Tiger. Many wildlife species are endangered, but it is now thought that the Wild Tiger is one of the most critically endangered of all. In the 20th century three of the eight sub-species of tiger became extinct; the Balinese in 1937, the Caspian in the 1950’s and most recently the Javan in the 1980’s. The five remaining sub-species are all critically endangered – these are the Siberian, largest of the tigers, the Bengal, the Sumatran, the Indo-Chinese and the South China tiger.
The South China tiger is the smallest of the sub-species and is also the closest to extinction, it is believed there are now only 25 left in the wild. Although tiger derivatives are totally illegal and it has never been proven medically, tiger parts raise significant amounts of money because many Chinese believe they can cure certain ailments. Because of this and their increasing awareness of the need to conserve their wildlife, China has recently made changes to their animal welfare legislation and tightened their laws on the illegal hunting, trapping and farming of wild tigers.… Read More The (Last) Year of the Tiger?