Tiger bone wine, an ancient potion of sorts, is believed by many Chinese to make the drinker strong and virile, and is still in demand amongst the wealthy or elderly. In order to meet the demand for tiger bones, the government established the farms under the guise of alleviating tiger poaching. But Leavenworth explained how the farms are actually having the opposite effect on wild tiger-hunting. "People who are true connoisseurs want to buy tiger parts, tiger bone wine, from wild tigers," he said. "So this entire trade increases the demand for hunting wild tigers."
The one upside, it seems, is the one mentioned earlier: China has been tending toward animal welfare reform in recent months. But will that be the case for Chinese tigers? Leavenworth didn't seem so sure. "There's discussion of a really comprehensive animal welfare law in China, but these things are happening extremely slowly," he said. "And for wild tigers in China they're probably not happening fast enough."