tigers traded around the world

More tigers live in captivity than are left in the wild

19.1.2021

Tigers are a highly endangered species, with current estimates indicating there are only 3,900 left in the wild. Ambitious, science-based conservation efforts, along with anti-poaching and community-based engagement plans, are necessary to secure a future for these majestic and elusive big cats.

Unfortunately, there are more tigers living in captivity than are left in the wild, and this is a problem. The relentless demand for tigers – traded for their parts but also to be displayed commercially – significantly contributes to the decline of the species. Legal trade facilitates illegal trade and causes a real threat to wild tiger populations.

FOUR PAWS has been fighting for years to end the global exploitation of big cats. Our research and undercover investigations have revealed that the lucrative commercial trade of captive tigers is happening not only in Asia, but throughout Europe as well.

Shockingly, tigers born in captivity in Europe can still be traded for commercial purposes like circuses or for private keeping and for photo opportunities. To make matters worse, no legal authority or country knows how many tigers are currently kept in the European Union; this same situation of exploitation and unknown numbers applies to the captive tiger population in the United States and Asia as well.

In FOUR PAWS’ most recent report, Europe’s Second-Class Tigers, we reveal a shocking discrepancy between figures held by European authorities and the results of a recent investigation. This latest research highlights that the exact number of captive tigers is unknown by the relevant authorities and reveals the gaps in data pertaining to the numbers of big cats born, what happens to them during their lifetime and after they die.

In November 2018, FOUR PAWS published its first report on the European tiger trade, Protect our tigers: ban the commercial trade, which was shared with all the EU member states and the EU Commission. 

More information on our campaign to end the tiger trade in Europe is available here.

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The tiger: a highly endangered species

In the course of the twentieth century, the world already lost over 90 percent of its tigers, while current estimates suggest that there are only around 3,900 tigers left in the wild. The relentless demand for tiger parts as well as for animals to be displayed commercially has significantly contributed to the decline of this species. Legal trade often facilitates illegal trade, posing a real threat to the population of wild tigers.

Shockingly, tigers born in Europe in captivity are still traded for commercial purposes: for the circus ring or private keeping, as well as for photo opportunities. In some European countries, you can even rent a tiger for private parties!

Read more about this on our new campaign site.

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