2009-05-01

Legalise tiger trade to save species, economist urges or did he really say that?

I've changed this first part of my post. Dr Moyle in fact wrote a paper about the Black Market Trade in China. I've read an early draft of this paper and have also had a comment on this post concerning the Herald's Report as follows:

A large part of the problem with this article is simply, tiger farming isn't what the research about. I wrote two lines about tiger farms in a paper that actually detailed the organisation of the black market in tiger products. That's what the research was about.

Nothing to do with Keynesian economics, and a fair bit about me putting my arse on the line in smuggling hot-spots.

The poaching problem is that it has many tiger populations on the fast-track to extinction. That hasn't changed in a long time.

TV3 News has written a more accurate view of Brendan Moyles' paper and research into the Black Market Trade in China. At no point in my own reading of the early draft version is there any suggestion that Tiger Farming was an option. It was mentioned in a brief sentence as being an option by the Chinese Government however there was strong opposition to this. I haven't read the final paper but going on the early draft version at no time does Brendan Moyle make any of the suggestions the Herald report below has reported. I would suggest reading the TV3 News Item concerning Dr Moyles Paper on the Black Market Trade in China.

Legalise tiger trade to save species, economist urges

4:00AM Saturday May 02, 2009
By Lincoln Tan
Brendan Moyle argues a market-driven approach is the most effective way of saving the tiger from extinction. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Brendan Moyle argues a market-driven approach is the most effective way of saving the tiger from extinction. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Massey University lecturer Brendan Moyle is on a one-man mission to save the tigers.

After a "secret mission" to uncover the truth behind the illegal trade in tiger products in China, the wildlife economics expert says the only way to save the animal from extinction is to legalise the tiger trade and convince the Chinese that the big cats "can make them a whole lot of money".

The trade in tiger parts has been subject to an international ban since 1987 and has been outlawed in China since 1989, but Dr Moyle says conservation and legislation have not worked and wants to see tigers farmed and trade in them legalised, just like crocodiles.

"In the 1970s, two-thirds of crocodiles [species] were endangered. Now only one-third are, and this is largely because we have legalised the trade and turned them into handbags, belts and by putting them on the menu," Dr Moyle said.

"When we go to the locals telling them that crocodiles are worth a lot of money, we get more crocodiles. What we should be doing now is going to the Chinese and convincing them that tigers are also worth a lot of money."

Dr Moyle, who has made three visits to China for his covert operation, wants tiger farming "back on the discussion table" because it would also prove to be the most sustainable option to satisfy demand without threatening the wild tiger population.

"Conservationists are failing to get to grips with the market drivers. The issue is about markets, not about zoology. This is the way to save the species," Dr Moyle said.

"Tiger farming is not the feel-good solution, but we farm crocodiles, deer, salmon, so what makes tigers so special?

"The potential benefit is that it may cause some consumers to leave the black market and switch to legally sourced ones."

China is one of the world's biggest markets for tigers, which are prized for their skin and body parts, especially bones, which some Chinese believe to be effective in treating severe bone diseases. A whole tiger can fetch up to $90,000.

Despite global conservation efforts, which Dr Moyle says cost $177 million a year, the numbers continue to decline, mostly because of illegal hunting and human encroachment.

The World Wildlife Fund estimated last year that there were only about 3500 tigers left in the wild, compared with 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.

Education will be ineffective because the Chinese have used tiger parts for centuries, Dr Moyle said.

Dr Moyle has prepared a paper, which has been published in the journal Global Crime, saying there is no single black market for tiger products, but rather a market with geographical separation for two products - skin and bones.

Since the 1980s, a number of tiger farms have been set up in China and are believed to house 5000 captive tigers - possibly more than those which remain in the wild.

But some international conservation groups, such as the Environmental Investigation Agency, remain opposed to farming tigers as a means to combat poaching. They argue it would be cheaper to kill a wild tiger than to rear a captive one.

NZ Customs investigations manager Terry Brown said trading detected here involved mainly birds and reptiles, not tiger parts.

TIGERS

* Only 3500 left in the wild compared with 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.
* Hunted and poached for their skin as well as their bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
* Trading in tiger parts subject to international ban since 1987 and outlawed in China since 1989.

How to save the tigers:
Lift the ban, encourage more tiger farming and convince the locals that tigers "are worth a lot of money".

Sourced: NZ Herald Herald Website



5 comments:

  1. Liz I've heard this argument before and I just wanna say that in my opinion this is ridiculous. If we legalise and begin to actively promote and sponsor tiger farming then trust me all the tigers in India will be gone in a couple of years. There is absolutely no doubt about it.

    There are two reasons for it. One is that the demand for tiger products will increase exponentially.

    Secondly and more importantly - who in his right mind would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in rearing up a tiger from a cub to adulthood for the farming business when they can just get a poached wild tiger and its parts for a fraction of that money.

    So in my opinion Dr Moyle is totally wrong and has a very skewed and shallow perception of the affair. Anyway I don't think he'll get his way either.

    How sad that so many big cats were declawed at Zion. Maybe that was to make them tamer for the show? If so then it's very tragic. I hope that whatever the outcome of this affair, in the end the cats benefit.

    Glad to see that Emerald is well now. Hope everybody all has been doing great too. Many many hugs and love to all.

    ps. How nice that the person working on George Adamson's website saw my article and liked it. Thank you for liking it too :) I wrote it a couple of years ago when I first saw 'Born Free' and researched about George on the internet. Again thanks for appreciating it and thanks as always for being such an animal lover and an advocate for wildlife.

    Take care :)

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  2. Hi Omer

    Exactly it is ridiculous to apply any kind of Keynesian models to this real world situation. Tigers are as you and I well know ciritically endangered. That's one point. Secondly you're absolutely right. Why spend thousands on raising a tiger when you can just go and poach one. Demand will increase and the result as you quite rightly pointed out will be extinction in the wild. A bad theory and a bad move to even suggest this at all. I've got Economics Papers myself and seriously nothing really fits. In the models if we were talking about cattle or sheep then yes. They have been farmed for thousands of years. Crocodiles lay large clutches of eggs. Tigers don't lay eggs they have live cubs perhaps three at most. The numbers don't stack up.

    On the declawings at Zion. I strongly stand against that decision. I think they were declawed for entertainment. I want the best outcome for the animals at Zion. People can speak for themselves but the not the thirty Lions and Tigers who were condemned to a life of cruel and unspeakable pain. I hold Zion Wildlife Gardens responsible for this as a whole rather than individuals. That's how I look at things rather than blaming just one person. A former employee of Zion had put in a forum that it was Craig that had the "lions claws ripped out" I don't know if it was him or someone else that had it done. Either way it's inhumane and outright cruelty.

    Emerald is doing very well. I have to contact her vet on Monday and give her an update. Hopefully no more sticks and grass!

    On the George Adamson site. Yes I really enjoyed your article the guys that does the website was so thrilled that you had cared enough to write such a well researched article on that great man. To me George Adamson is the true Lion Man. If it wasn't for him rewilding projects would never have come about.

    So glad to hear from you again. I hope everything is well with your family and you.

    Purrs, love and hugs from me and the kitties here on the farm
    Liz

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  3. A large part of the problem with this article is simply, tiger farming isn't what the research about. I wrote two bloody lines about tiger farms in a paper that actually detailed the organisation of the black market in tiger products. That's what the research was about.

    Nothing to do with Keynesian economics, and a fair bit about me putting my arse on the line in smuggling hot-spots.

    The poaching problem is that it has many tiger populations on the fast-track to extinction. That hasn't changed in a long time.

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  4. Sounds to me like you really risked a heck of a lot going into places no-one else would dare go into. It sounded very strange to me that someone would go around saying oh lets farm tigers! I sort of thought to myself there was no logic to someone encouraging the trade.

    I"ll have to track down your paper and read it. I'll put your comment on as well. You're right tigers are on the fast track to extinction. Global Tiger Patrol are doing their best to get conservation projects in place but while the demand for Tiger products is still there poaching will continue. Your comment is very much appreciated. Well said and thanks for clearing this up.

    All the best
    Liz

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  5. To add to my reply to your comment re your research. Yes I can see where the Herald has gone horribly wrong on this. I'm reading the draft of your paper at the moment. And yes just a few lines about tiger farming but nothing about you suggesting it should be done! This needs to be cleared up.

    Thanks for your input on this

    Best regards
    Liz

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