|New Poll Shows an Overwhelming Majority of Chinese Public
Supports Ban on Tiger Trade
Beijing January 26, 2008
public supports the ban on tiger trade and stands ready to pitch in to
save wild tigers, according to the results of a new opinion poll
The face-to-face survey of 1,880 people in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou,
Guilin, Harbin, Kunming and Shanghai was conducted by Horizon Key, one
of China’s pre-eminent public polling companies. Respondents, who
statistically represent the entire adult populations of these cities,
were asked questions about their use of tiger products, their
preferences for products from wild versus farmed tigers and their
attitudes toward conservation of wild tigers and China’s 1993
Nearly 95 percent of respondents support China’s tiger-trade ban.
Among those, more than 77 percent felt that keeping the ban was
important for China’s image. Nearly 95 percent also said that
they would take action to save wild tigers, including abstaining from
the use of tiger products.
“The results of this survey present the strikingly clear message
that most Chinese people care so much about wild tigers that they are
willing to change behaviors that threaten survival of tigers in the
wild, said Judy Mills of Save The Tiger Fund, which commissioned the
study. “With this strong support from the Chinese people, wild
tigers can survive and thrive.”
However, the survey also reported nearly 50 percent of those polled had
consumed what they thought were tiger products. Most used tiger
products as medicines or health tonics and had done so since
China’s 1993 tiger-trade ban was put in place. Among those
consumers, nearly 66 percent of the medicine users said they prefer
products from wild tigers. Among the tonic users, more than 74 percent
preferred products from wild tigers. Among those who used tiger skins,
nearly 55 percent preferred skins from wild tigers. In contrast, just
under 7 percent of both medicine and tonic users preferred products
from farmed tigers. Among skin users, just over 4 percent favored
products from farmed tigers.
At present, businessmen in China have bred some 5,000 tigers in hope
that the 15-year trade ban will be lifted. These factory-farm owners
are lobbying the government to lift the ban, clearing the way for them
to make huge profits from the sale of tonic wine made with tiger bones.
Meanwhile, tiger experts fear that reopening trade in tiger products
from any source will cause a disastrous increase in poaching of the
estimated 3,400 4,400 tigers remaining in the wild. For this reason,
some say the fate of wild tigers rests with China’s maintaining
and enforcing its trade ban.
“The preference for products from wild tigers documented by
this survey confirm our fears that lifting China’s ban will send
the message to poachers that it’s open season on tigers, which
would be disastrous for wild tigers,” said Grace Gabriel of the
International Fund for Animal Welfare.
The primary use of tiger products in traditional Chinese medicine is to
remedy arthritic conditions. The traditional Chinese medicine community
has won praise from conservationists for finding and embracing
effective alternatives. Those petitioning China’s government to
lift the ban are businessmen who stand to make millions of dollars from
selling tiger-bone wine.
The 171 countries that are members of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) decided in June that tigers should
not be farmed for trade in their body parts and products.