Increasing Demand for Tiger Wine and Skin in China Worries Conservationists

(Photo : Flickr / Keith Roper / CC) Ustin, one of the tigers released by Russian President Vladimir Putin into the wild, has killed a number of goats in China.

The increasing demand for wine and skin rugs made from tigers is putting the animals in danger in China, Daily Mail reported.

According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), members of China's wealthy families are supporting the trade involving tiger wine and skin because they are viewed as status symbols.

The alcoholic beverages, which are made using tiger bones soaked in rice wine, are used for medicinal purposes while the skin rugs are given as gifts. A bottle of tiger wine ranges from $80 to $290 depending on its age.

These products usually come from tigers kept inside private farming facilities. Owners of the farms claim they have received approval from the Chinese government to conduct their operations. They argue that the farms actually lessen the need to hunt wild tigers in order to meet the demands of consumers.

The farm operator even said the tiger bones used in making the wines were taken from the skeletons of the animals that died naturally.

However, the EIA criticized the farm owners' response and said their operations are contributing to the decline of the tiger population.

"The argument put forward by the tiger-farming lobby us that farmed tiger products will flood the market, relieving pressure on wild targets," the group's spokesperson Debbie Banks said in a statement.

"This is a ridiculous notion and has turned into a disastrous experiment," she added.

Contrary to the farm owners' claims, the EIA pointed that the demand on farmed tiger products has also encouraged poachers to hunt down the animals, the Washington Post reported.

In addition, the EIA noted that the operation of tiger farms was not caused by the demand from consumers.

According to a joint investigation by the EIA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Washington post, the farms' tiger-related products has ignited the people's interest in the wines and skin rugs.

"After these farms started selling wine, and taxidermists started selling tiger pelts, it really stimulated waning demand from consumers," spokesperson Grace Ge Gabriel of IFAW said in a statement.

Tags Tigers, China, Science, Environment

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