The illegal trade in exotic animals is second only to the drug trade in the U.S. With tigers it takes two forms.
Trophy Parts – status symbols or good luck charms
A live adult tiger can be purchased for two hundred dollars in America. Tiger skins can be found on Craigslist for between $5,000 and $10,000. The tiger’s head, paws, skin, claws, teeth, eyes and other parts as well as its meat are sold into the black market.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
The renewed interest in TCM which uses tiger parts for their medicinal properties is considered an alternative to Western medicine.
Asian medicine or folk remedies containing tiger parts are believed to cure acne, epilepsy, laziness, meningitis, rheumatic fever, arthritis, headache, leprosy, paralysis, skin disease, back pain, impotence, malaria, snake bite, and toothache.
The powdered humerus bone of a tiger sells for $1,450 a pound and people believe it can cure ulcers and rheumatism. Full retail value of a complete tiger bone set in the TCM market can be over $50,000.
There are 10 million people in this country who believe in the medicinal value of tiger parts.
It is difficult for us to make the case in the international community to stop selling tiger parts when the U.S. is second only to China in this trade.