Tigers, dead and live, as well as a variety of tiger parts equal to a conservative estimate of 3,377 tigers were confiscated in the last 22 years across 50 countries and territories, according to the latest analysis by the Traffic.
In their latest analysis – “Skin and Bones: Tiger Trafficking Analysis from January 2000–June 2022”, the tigers and their parts were mostly in the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRCs).
Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia and co-author of the report Kanitha Krishnasamy said “The evidence clearly shows poaching and illegal trade are not temporary threats. Unless we want to watch wild tigers wiped out in our lifetime, immediate and time-bound actions must be a priority.”
TIGERS AND THE BIG CATCH
India, home to more than half of the global wild tiger population, remains the top-ranked country with the most incidents and number of tigers confiscated, the authors of the report said. China and Indonesia comes next in highest seizures over this period and all the three countries accounted for 53% of all seizures (1178 incidents), the analysis said.
India was on top with with 759 (34%) seizures incidents and 893 (26%) confiscated tigers. In China, 212 ( 10%) incidents were reported 367 (11%) tigers confiscated. In Indonesia it is incidents: 207, tigers: 319.
The report noted that the overall number of tiger seizure incidents recorded appeared stable between 2018 and 2021 compared to the preceding 4-year period (2014-2017). It also mentioned that the aggregated rate of incidents remained stably above the equivalent of 100 tigers/year in the last ten years. Recent trends, at least in some countries were likely impacted by the policy responses to the COVID-19, it said.
TIGERS AND 2022
In the analysis, the authors say that Tiger seizures in the first half of 2022 showed a troubling pattern, recording a general increase in seizure incidents across selected TRCs, compared to the median of the first half of the preceding two decades. “This was the case for Russia and Thailand, but particularly evident for Indonesia – an increase was recorded in seizure incidents and equivalent tigers seized. In Indonesia, the equivalent of 18 tigers were confiscated during the first six months of 2022, double the volumes reported during the same period for 2021 and 2020 and exceeding by 50% the median volume recorded in the same period between 2000-2022. This worrying trend for Indonesia serves as an urgent warning to reverse the trend of further decline for this Critically Endangered sub-species,” the analysis said.
SEIZED TIGER COMMODITIES
Almost one-third (608 of 2,205) of all seizure incidents involved whole tigers, totalling 1,319 individuals: 665 were alive and 654 were dead. It also said that in the past 23 years, trafficking in whole tigers contributed to a gradually more prominent share of recorded incidents, rising from 7% in 2003 all the way to 47% of the seizure incidents in 2017. Subsequent years witnessed a temporary trend reversal, with seizure incidents involving whole individuals increasing once again to 39% of the total incidents during the first half of 2022, the analysis pointed out.
Apart from Whole animals, the most frequently confiscated tiger parts are skins (1,313 whole, 609 pieces across 902 seizures) and bones (11,528 items and an additional 2.9 tonnes across 411 seizures).
ARREST AND PROSECUTION
The Traffic said that over 2,313 people were arrested for confirmed and suspected engagement in tiger trafficking globally between 2000 and June 2022. About 95% (2,203) of the suspects were arrested in TRCs, with the highest numbers recorded from India (1,043 individuals); corresponding with the highest number of cases recorded there. India continues to experience a growing trend in recent years with 134 people arrested in 2021 alone, which could also signal a strength in its enforcement effort. Jail sentences ranged between 17 and 72 months within TRCs, with a median of 36 months. Penalties were considerably lower outside of TRCs, most of which ranged between 6 and 25 months, with a median of 11 months.
- STRENGTHEN CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESPONSE; Intelligence-driven investigations to dismantle criminal networks operating all along the illegal trade chain from point of source to market. Financial investigations should be pursued to achieve this goal, along with cross-border collaboration on investigations; Strong and predictable prosecution is crucial for ensuring an effective deterrent to tiger trafficking crimes; Several TRCs still have considerably low penalties and loopholes within national legislation that may pose as an avenue to evade strong prosecution. These legislative gaps should be closed, to give governments the upper hand in combatting this crime.
- CLOSE ILLEGAL MARKETS; Markets that are selling tiger parts and products must be shut down by governments. These markets and the commercial platforms (for online trade) encourage the people behind the markets to operate with impunity, and seriously undermine the investments to eradicate tiger trafficking
- CONTROL FACILITIES HOLDING AND BREEDING CAPTIVE TIGERS; Facilities holding and breeding captive tigers must be subject to robust laws, regulations and enforcement in line with CITES Resolution Conf 12.5 (Rev CoP18)³ and its relevant Decisions.
- REDUCE DEMAND; Effort to deter consumers and traders from buying and selling illegal products must be carefully undertaken, including through targeted behaviour change interventions and campaigns.
- FORENSICS PROFILING AND DATA MANAGEMENT
- DATA SHARING AND COLLABORATION
The report launched ahead of the CITES CoP 19, forms part of TRAFFIC’s priorities where the fate of tigers and other big cats will be a focus of discussions.