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Speaking For Tigers: A Call to End Asia's Illegal Trade

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - PROOF
July 2, 2014
Sharon Guynup


Our driver turned off one of Nagpur’s main thoroughfares, leaving the honking chaos of urban Indian traffic behind us. We pulled into the bucolic tropical campus that housed Forest Department offices. At the gate we were stopped and questioned by guards who meticulously checked our credentials and called their superiors before finally waving us inside. Security was high: The confiscated tiger skins that Steve Winter and I had come to film and photograph for National Geographic were worth a small fortune on the black market—and forest officials had been gunned down in heists of tiger contraband before

When we arrived, guards were laying out the pelts for us, carrying them with great tenderness and a solemnity that made me feel like I was attending a funeral. Some of the skins had been processed into rugs, with heads still attached, gazing at us with marble eyes. Others were desiccated, with shrunken heads.

That footage became part of a video on India’s illegal tiger trade and a blog post on why tigers are “walking gold.”

It was the kind of assignment that both breaks your heart and drives you to continue.


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TIGER DEATHS IN 2017
 Mortality                 64
 Poaching &             
 Seizures                  27
___________________
       Total                   91

TIGER DEATHS IN 2016
 Mortality                  82
 Poaching &              50
 Seizures                   
___________________
       Total                  132


TIGER POACHING 1994-2016

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LEOPARD DEATHS IN 2017
 Mortality                227
 Poaching &            138
 Seizures             
___________________
       Total                   365



LEOPARD DEATHS IN 2016
 Mortality                 282
 Poaching &             154
 Seizures             
___________________
       Total                  436
     

LEOPARD POACHING 1994-2016


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