Why Does China Persist in Allowing a Black Market in Illegal Wildlife Products?

29 Jan

Please do take a moment to look at this photograph.

Tiger farm in southern Binh Duong province, Vietnam// http://www.jukani.co.za

The tigers in this cage are being kept more or less as livestock. And that is because they are livestock, bred for the value of their bones, eyeballs, testicles, and all manner of other body parts, eaten by gullible people all over Asia in order to cure themselves of diseases, improve their sexual performance, and live longer, happier lives. Some of these tigers will also have been caught in the wild. Each one is worth in the region of $20,000 to $30,000 or more. The value of the wildlife smuggling trade is difficult to assess but it is believed to run into billions of dollars. And this is the main reason why tigers are disappearing from the wild, also rhino and elephant in Africa. Other reasons such as habitat loss are also highly significant. But the customer in Asia – probably in China – that buys half a tiger vertebrae for his arthritis or an eyeball for her diabetes or a bottle of tiger wine for his impotence, is at the very root of the perennial problem of our disappearing wildlife. How sad, how unnecessary. And how very awful that some of the most beautiful living things in the world will be eaten by the most ignorant.

The “tiger farmer” in Binh Duong province, Vietnam (some 40 kms. south of Ho Chi Minh City), claims that he keeps the tigers because he “has a soft spot for them”. I’m sure he has, when they make him so much money. He also claims that his farm is funded by a beer company. Possibly he is not a very good liar, and what he really means by “a beer company” is a wine company: a tiger wine company. Here is an image filched from a mainstream UK newspaper, showing a tiger being starved to death while macho blokes walk around it looking devious – possibly they are planning their next erection? Once this poor animal has died it will be used to make wine – also supposedly banned in China.


The Horrific Cruelty of China’s Tiger Farms // Daily Express, Feb. 2013

So, we learn that the tigers are first starved to death, before wine is made from their bones. What a charming practice! Who but lunatics could have come up with this? And did they have a chat with Charles Manson before they got started?

Other aspects of the photograph to be commented on: I particularly loathe the man in the red shirt in the foreground, I would in fact love to put him exactly where the tiger is. Something about his casual cruelty, just standing there putting a cigarette in his mouth. I defy anyone with a heart to stand by that cage without having a fit of rage at the swine who did this.

Below you will see a short film about the investigation headed by Debbie Banks of the EIA (the Environmental Investigation Agency) to look into the illegal trade in tiger products. For years the EIA has passed relevant information to the national agencies of countries such as China, Nepal and India. This year, they opted to go direct to Interpol. Why? Well, according to Debbie Banks, they have concluded that there seems to be no desire to stop this trade. She adds: “If China wanted to stop it, they would.” One tends to agree, given China’s excellent record of governmental hectoring of its citizens. In this short EIA film, we learn, surprisingly, that tiger skins are often bought by Chinese high-ranking army officers, possibly to make it quite clear to their subordinates that they certainly have no erectile dysfunction. And so the sad truth seems to be that in China, the authorities are more than willing to hound intellectuals, artists and freethinkers, while selected criminals are given free rein.

EIA film on the illegal trade in tiger bone

One should also add that China has a large number of its own tiger farms, which is odd, considering that it’s a signatory of all the relevant international treaties banning the sale of such wildlife “products”. What is the sub-text here? I would love to know why there is such intransigence, such unwillingness to cooperate with what seems so reasonable? Is it just money? Greed?

China Puts the “con” in Tiger Conservation // EIA article

My own disturbing theory is that there must be a serious problem with male erectile dysfunction in China. How strange that the world’s most populous country is somehow managing to totter on, given the lamentable sexual health of its males.

Another thought strikes me: why not just take some Viagra?

8 Responses to “Why Does China Persist in Allowing a Black Market in Illegal Wildlife Products?”

  1. Marcus Speh January 29, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    Disgusting actually doesn’t quite cover it. There’s a disrespect of life (not just wild, as you point out) at work here that looks diabolically dysfunctional— paganism gone potty. Reminds me of the fight against the traditional foot-binding practice of children—a struggle that was eventually won. My image right now: Concubines dancing on Lotus Feet towards their captors who rest their balls (too large and swollen to be contained by trousers) on Tiger skins of formerly proud animals not hunted but bred like chicken, sipping wine with a whiff of tarsus from a tortured great cat. Not pretty. Philosophical or political relativism sometimes just doesn’t serve.

    • Henning Koch January 29, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      Exactly, it is baffling how anyone could have come up with this. Chinese medicine is revered everywhere, but I suppose one has to understand that every system has its limits – also Western medicine. Anyway, I am unsure whether tiger bones are a part of some ancient superstition, or an integral part of Chinese medicine. Perhaps someone else out there would know?

      • birkenkrahe January 29, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

        I found this which seems to indicate at least that there’re some practitioners looking for alternatives & that they can be found.

      • Henning Koch January 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

        That’s weird and fascinating and only you could have found it. By the way, someone should tell the learned doctor that seagulls also rarely get arthritis, maybe he should give ’em a go?

  2. mjh333 January 29, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Barbaric! I can’t understand how people can sleep at night after treating animals like this. I knew about the medicine but seeing the cages it just wrong. Are there charities you know of to stop this?

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