A shady and lucrative business, tiger farming enjoys backing of corrupt officials and poaching enterprises in China and southeast Asia. In places like Burma and Thailand tiger parts are openly available for sale in urban markets. In zoos and captive centers across China thousands of tigers are kept in miserable conditions in small enclosures and slaughtered daily to feed the huge market that revolves around exotic animal parts.
Proponents of this lucrative business claim that since captive tigers serve the purpose, tiger farming actually 'protects' wild tigers by sparing them from poachers. This, however, is not true. Tiger farming continues to fuel the market for the oriental medicines that make use of tiger parts, thus hurting the cause of tigers. Plus, poachers still go after wild tigers since they are cheaper to obtain. A poached tiger in India is worth two and a half million Indian Rupees, roughly fifty thousand US Dollars - enough to sustain a family for their lifetime in that developing nation.
Recently, in a significant move towards conservation of tigers, CITES, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, has issued a notification to stop tiger farming in member countries. A decision welcomed by conservationists around the world, this will serve to curb the cruel practice. However, it remains to be seen as to how effectively it will be implemented by the Chinese government which has so far been reluctant to act against openly operating tiger farms. At the same time it will also temporarily increase the demand for wild tigers greatly and necessitate greater vigil in reserves and forests against poachers. Still, one thing is for sure. If the tiger is to survive anywhere in the wild, the use of its parts in any form or place has to be abolished permanently.
To read an article from 2007 that provides a close perspective on this horrible practice click here.