China's president, Xi Jinping, will be in Washington, DC today meeting President Obama. I am sure they will explore a robust and important agenda of items for discussion and I hope that President Obama will heed our request to include tiger conservation in their deliberations.
There are a dangerously low 3,000 wild tigers remaining across Asia. One of the most serious threats that continues to haunt these iconic animals is poaching, which is fueled by the illegal trade in their meat, skin, bones, and other products to satisfy demand driven by wealth and greed.
This demand is being stimulated by captive tiger breeding operations in Asia, so called "tiger farms," in which tigers are intensively bred for trade in their parts and products. Their skins are professionally taxidermied for the luxury home décor market, and their skeletons are soaked in vats of wine to make tiger bone "health tonic." In recent years, this industry has developed to a point where the number of captive tigers in these facilities now vastly outnumbers their wild counterparts. In China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos alone, there are approximately 6,700 tigers in breeding facilities, often kept in appalling conditions. Of course, tigers face similar cruel captivity in the US.