Through extensive in-country interviews and analysis of data from CITES, WAZA, EAZA, Species360, and others, the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) and TRAFFIC have published a definitive study on the unlikely role of the EU in supplying tigers for illegal trade.
The report, released last week, looks at the legislation and policies for the keeping of captive tiger populations in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. Additionally, it analyses data on legal and illegal trade in tigers, their parts and products, between the EU and third countries.
The report also demonstrates the important role of policies, guidelines, protocols and action from accrediting bodies like WAZA and EAZA in the keeping and breeding of tigers.
The authors go on to recommend ways to keep tigers out of the supply chain. Among the ways to curb trade, say WWF and TRAFFIC: Develop a central EU register that models EAZA members’ use of Species360 to record and share transparency to the births, care, welfare, and deaths of all tigers. Also recommended: the central register should contain, inter alia, information on the number of tigers nationwide and by which facilities, relevant documentation, details on marking (including images of stripe patterns) and any information on deceased specimens.
“It’s virtually impossible to know how many tigers there currently are in the EU. There are limited measures requirements in place to assess accurately and regularly the total numbers at a national level, let alone across the EU. There should be a co-ordinated approach to develop a central register for tigers held in captivity in the EU, with advice and best practices sought, for example from EAZA based on the experience with Species360. This is a vital step to help these countries ensure tiger parts, such as skins and bones, do not enter illegal trade.”– Heather Sohl, Tiger Trade Leader, Tigers Alive, WWF
EAZA requires its members to record all captive animals in the Species360 Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). By recording and providing transparency to births, care, welfare, and deaths, institutions ensure the welfare of individuals and populations of species.
ZIMS is used by more than 1,200 wildlife institutions worldwide, to record husbandry, medical, and population data on animals in their care. ZIMS data is accepted by international regulatory bodies such as CITES, WWF, IUCN SSCs, TRAFFIC, and other conservation agencies leading the fight to protect biodiversity.
"Falling Through the System: The role of the European Union captive tiger population in the trade in tigers: (Excerpt)...There should be a co-ordinated and collaborative approach between the EU Member States and the European Commission to discuss how best to develop a traceability system and/or central registers for tigers held in captivity in the EU. Advice and best practices should be sought, for example from EAZA based on the experience with Species360."
For more discoveries about the illegal tiger trade, and what can be done to reduce it, we encourage you to download the full report at WWF.