Saturday, January 26, 2008

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

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

    BEIJING, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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 seven percent of both medicine and tonic
users preferred products from farmed tigers. Among skin users, just over
four 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.
 
Judy Mills
Save The Tiger Fund
Director, Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking (CATT)
1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 900
Washington, DC  20036  USA
1-202-857-5160 Office
1-202-674-4588 Mobile

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