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New Poll Shows an Overwhelming Majority of Chinese Public
Supports Ban on Tiger Trade

Beijing January 26, 2008 

The Chinese 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 released today.

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 tiger-trade ban.

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.




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