Tiger Farming Time Line

From Hidden in Plain Sight: China’s Clandestine Tiger Trade, by Environmental Investigation Agency.

Year# Wild Tigers in Asia# Wild Tigers in China# Tigers in China’s FarmsEvent Description
19494000[1]0China is home to an estimated 4,000 wild tigers when the People’s Republic of China is founded.[1]
1950sGovernment offers bounty for killing tigers.[2]
19818000[3]China accedes to CITES.[6]
1983150–200[1]0US zoos ship eight live tigers to zoos in China.[4]
1984200[5]0Tiger bones for the manufacturing of traditional Chinese medicines become hard to obtain in China.[5]

China establishes conservation-breeding program for South China tigers in Chongqing Zoo, overseen by National Environmental Protection Agency.[1]
198650–80[1]8–13[6] & [7]Ministry of Forestry “concentrates” all Siberian tigers from United States, intended for conservation breeding, on fur farm in Heilongjiang Province to establish Hengdaohezi Breeding Centre of Felidae Animals, China’s first tiger farm, a Government-funded operation to breed tigers for profit, primarily to supply bones for medical use.[6], [8], [9] & [10]

South China tiger declared near extinction.[1]
198732–42[11]21–33[7] & [12]Chinese National Pharmaceutical Bureau gives Beijing Pharmaceutical Company remit to plan tiger farm to solve shortage of tiger bones.[8]
198950–56[7] & [12]China’s law on the protection of wildlife comes into effect, giving wild tigers “Category 1” protection, and encourages wildlife farming and utilisation.[13]

Fifteen tiger cubs born at Hengdaohezi Breeding Centre of Felidae Animals, bringing total to around 50. From 1985–1989, the Ministry of Forestry and other government agencies spend US$1,333,350 to finance and manage this progenitor of China’s tiger farming industry.[12]

Indian authorities arrest poacher in Rajasthan who claims to have sent skeletons of 18 tigers to China.[14]
199174[7]Sacks of tiger bones are seized in India and Nepal en route over the Himalayas into Tibet for the Chinese market. “The quest for bones for China medicine is the root of… poaching of tigers in Nepal and Northern India.” Nepal has never before had “serious tiger poaching before” in its flagship Chitwan National Park.[12]
199262–82[6] & [7]China asks CITES CoP8 for registration of the Hengdaohezi Breeding Centre of Felidae Animals in order to trade bones and skins internationally to pay for the facility’s running costs. The delegation argues that the farm’s trade would not hurt wild tigers because their numbers are so low they are hard for poachers to find, but withdraws proposal amid concerns from CITES Parties and NGOs that sale of farmed parts and derivatives will stimulate and provide cover for trafficking in wild tigers.[15]

Lawyers for WWF and the National Wildlife Federation submit petition asking US Government to impose trade sanctions against China for its domestic trade in tiger (and rhino) parts and products.[16] US law allows imposition of trade restrictions against foreign countries whose nationals engage in trade that undermines international programs to protect endangered species, in this case CITES.[17]
199396–413[7], [10] & [18]India’s flagship Ranthambore Tiger Reserve loses more than half of its tigers to poaching for bones.[30]

China’s State Council issues Notification stopping all trade in/use of tiger bone and removes it from official pharmacopeia.[19]

What will become Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village, China’s largest tiger farm, is established in Guangxi Province.[20] Researchers from Northeast Forestry University and the People’s Liberation Army University of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry help businessman Zhou Weisen become China’s most prolific tiger breeder.[21]
19944600–7700[22]20–100[23]85+[7]China notes its continued tiger-breeding operation at CITES CoP9, where Parties adopt first tiger resolution, asking Parties to prohibit domestic trade in tiger parts and derivatives.[24] & [25]
19985000–7000[26]171[7] & [21]New tiger farm established in Shenyang, Liaoning Province.[27]
1999CITES technical delegation visits China, which claims to have at least 944 kg of tiger bone and 48 whole tiger skeletons secured, while farms are producing about 200 tiger cubs annually. The mission’s report cautioned, “farming would provide an opportunity for laundering wild-caught specimens that would simply accelerate and/or assist current poaching and illicit trade.”[28]

Massive resurgence in illegal trade in tiger and leopard skins from India and Nepal into China[29]
2002600+[2]CITES CoP12 approves Resolution 12.5. urging Parties and non-Parties with captive-breeding operations to prevent parts and products from those facilities entering illegal trade.[30]

Thailand’s Sri Racha Tiger Zoo ships 100 tigers to Hainan in Sino-Thai venture to create world’s largest tiger farm. Thai government finds Natural Resource and Environment Ministry official wrong in approving the export for commercial tiger farming.[31] & [32]
2003State Forestry Administration issues Forestry Protection Notification 2003 No. 3 for a 2003 “pilot marking scheme” for legal trade in wildlife products. Additional notices will expand this scheme to include trade in skins from captive-bred tigers and “bone-strengthening wine” sold at tiger farms and purported by sellers to be made with tiger bone.[33]

Thirty-one tiger skins and 581 leopard skins seized at Sangsang in Tibet.[29]
2004State Forestry Administration issues Forestry Protection Notification 2004 No. 6, extending 2004 marking scheme to allow Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village distillery to sell “bone-strengthening wine”.[34]

Sariska Tiger Reserve has no more tigers due to poaching for skins and bones.[35]

Trader tells EIA investigators of market in luxury home décor among wealthy Chinese using tiger skins to “decorate their sofas”[29]
20053000[36]Forestry Protection Notification 2005 No. 139 announces terms of pilot project for use of bones from captive-bred tigers in medicine.[37]

HailinHengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Liquor Industry Co., Ltd, is founded near Siberian Tiger Park. The company’s “bone-strengthening tonic wine” depends on “resource advantages [sic] the largest Siberian tiger breeding base in the world”[38]

EIA and WPSI document the dangerous scale of demand for skins used to decorate traditional Tibetan costumes. Investigators offered the skins of three tigers, 170 leopard skins and 60 snow leopard, and document hundreds of people wearing costumes decorated with leopard and tiger skins.[39]
20064000+[2]China Youth Daily reports tiger skeletons seen soaking in alcohol and tiger-bone wine for sale at Xiongsen farm’s distillery, to which China’s State Forestry Administration contributed nearly US$1 million for its development.[40] “Tiger bone wine has re-emerged on the market in China, despite a ban on the trade… ”Amazingly, the company’s sale of these products has been approved by the State Forestry Administration…[40] Xiongsen’s “Cellar Number One has a storage capacity of… 3 million liters of wine… Of the 1,000 containers there in 2006, 400 contained tiger parts.”[27]

World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), associated with China’s State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, says tiger-bone wine is not a medicine and manufacturing and sales should be stopped.[41]

EIA and WPSI document reduction in Tibetan use of tiger skins following appeal from religious leaders appeal to end their use.[39]
20073000–5000[42]5000+[9]State Forestry Administration issues notification extending marking scheme to allow tiger skins and products from registered breeding facilities to enter trade.[43]

China tells CITES CoP14 its tiger farms can provide a “steady foundation” for resumption of legal trade in tiger bones and “fur”. “By the end of 2006, the captive population of tigers in China exceeded 5,000 animals with a capacity to reproduce 800–1,000 cubs annually.”[9] & [44]

CITES CoP14 approves Decision 14.69 against tiger farming and breeding tigers for trade in their parts and products.[45]
2008The “Gallup” of China’s survey organization polls six major Chinese cities and finds a majority of people believes parts and products from wild tigers are more effective and more desirable than those from farmed tigers.[46]
20093200[26]Wan Ziming of China’s CITES Management Authority publishes article outlining a strategy to build support for international trade in parts and products from farmed tigers.[47]

EIA documents continuing trade in skins of wild tigers, leopards and snow leopards to feed into Chinese market for luxury home décor.[48]
201040–50[49]6000[50] & [51]The CITES Secretariat reports evidence of “leakage” of tiger products from tiger farms in South East Asia.[52] “Captive-breeding of tigers is occurring in several range States but many of these facilities appear to be owned and operated in a manner that would conflict with the goals expressed in Decision 14.69. Intelligence suggesting that tigers, or their parts and derivatives, from some of these facilities entering illegal commercial trade is growing.”[53]

State Forestry Administration distributes brochures at CITES CoP15 saying, “China’s legislation encourages the captive breeding of endangered animals including tigers” and that the number of tigers on China’s farms has increased by 1,000 since CITES’ 2007 call for the phasing out tiger farms in 2007. “All activities of the existing tiger farms are in line with Chinese laws… “More than 200 (work) units are engaged in tiger domestication and reproduction, up to 6,000 tigers are held in captivity, and the annual breeding capacity is over 1,000.”[50] & [54]

State Forestry Administration participates in World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative, promising to fight “illegal” trade and “illegal” demand, noting it has “a permit system for activities concerning” farmed tigers. SFA is inspecting tiger breeding facilities and markets, and employing a “special label system and standardized packages with official seal to enhance monitoring of tiger skins and storages of tiger bone from breeding facilities.”[55], [56] & [49]

At Russian “tiger summit,” Premier Wen Jiabao specifically mentions ending “tiger trade” rather than specifying only “illegal trade.”[57]
2011Beijing auction house Googut makes public offering of more than 400 bottles of tiger-bone wine.[58]
20123200–4000[26]40–50[59]CITES Standing Committee asks for Notification to “stress” the need for relevant Parties to report on phasing out intensive tiger breeding operations.[90] & [109] “Owing to the serious threat of extinction of some populations of tigers, the Secretariat believes this subject should continue to be an agenda item at each regular meeting of the Standing Committee.”[60]
2013China’s report on Asian big cats to CITES CoP16 addresses “illegal” tiger trade and says parts of captive-bred tigers are “strictly regulated.” Parts coming from captive bred tigers are “labeled” and “monitored” to “prevent the captive bred tiger parts from entering the illegal trade from or through such facilities.”[61]


  1. Cat News, No. 5, August 1986.
  2. Nowell, Kristin and Ling Xu (TRAFFIC East Asia, 2007), Taming the Tiger Trade: China’s Markets for Wild and Captive Tiger Products Since the 1993 Domestic Trade Ban.
  3. Alexander, C. (Dec. 2011), The Cry For The Tiger (National Geographic Magazine), http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/tigers/alexander-text.
  4. CITES Trade Database, http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/trade.shtml.
  5. Cat News, No. 1, July 1984.
  6. Cat News, No. 17, Sept. 1992.
  7. Conrad, Kirsten (Feb. 2000), Safety in Numbers: Review of the Breeding Center for Felidae at Hengdaohezi.
  8. Cat News, No. 7, August 1987.
  9. CITES Management Authority of China (2007), Key Position and General Introduction on Tiger Conservation in China (CITES CoP14 delegation white paper).
  10. CITES Secretariat (2007), Report on the Verification and Assessment Mission to China, CITES CoP14 Doc. 52 Annex 7, http://www.cites.org/common/cop/14/doc/E14-52A07.pdf.
  11. Cat News, No. 6, February 1987.
  12. Cat News, No. 15, July 1991.
  13. Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife (1989, amended in 2004), http://www.china.org.cn/english/environment/34349.htm.
  14. Cat News, No. 13, July 1990.
  15. CITES CoP8 Committee I Summary Record (1992), http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/08/E-Com-I.pdf.
  16. Steve Charnovitz (1994), Environmental Trade Sanctions and the GATT: Analysis of the Pelly Amendment on Foreign Environmental Practices (American University International Law Review, Volume 9, Issue 3, Article 3, 1994).
  17. Pelly Amendment to the U.S. Fisherman’s Protective Act of 1967, 22 U.S.C. § 1978, as amended by Pub. L. No. 95-376, 92 Stat. 714 (Sept. 18, 1978), http://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/pelly-amendment.html.
  18. Anon. (Sept. 6, 1999), Profile: From Snake Trapper to Wildlife Protector (Xinhua Press Agency), http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/50years/celebrities/19990910C109.html.
  19. Circular of the State Council on Banning the Trade of Rhinoceros Horn and Tiger Bone (May 29, 1993), http://www.asianlii.org/cn/legis/cen/laws/cotscobttorhatb696/.
  20. The current Situation of Tiger Breeding and the Facing Difficulties of the Guilin Xiongsen Tigers and Bears Mountainvillage (2007), CITES CoP14 Doc. 52 Annex 8, http://www.cites.org/common/cop/14/doc/E14-52A08.pdf.
  21. Supra n.18.
  22. Cat News, No. 19, Sept. 1993.
  23. Cat News, No. 20, April 1994.
  24. CITES Res. Conf. 9.13, Conservation of and Trade in Tigers, http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/09/E9-Res.pdf.
  25. CITES Doc. 9.29 (1994), Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention: Trade in Tiger Specimens, http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/09/doc/E9-Doc-29_29-4.pdf.
  26. IUCN Red List, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15955/0.
  27. IFAW (May 2007), Made in China – Farming Tigers to Extinction.
  28. Report of the CITES Tiger Missions Technical Team, Doc. SC42.10.4 (1999).
  29. EIA (2004), Tiger Skin Trail.
  30. CITES Res. Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP 15), Conservation of and trade in tigers and other Appendix-I Asian big cat species, http://www.cites.org/eng/res/12/12-05.php.
  31. Cao, Desheng (May 13, 2004), Thai tigers safe and sound in Hainan (China Daily), http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-05/13/content_330516.htm.
  32. Anon. (May 4, 2004), Intelligence Panel: OK for tiger export deemed ‘an offence’ (The Nation, Thailand), http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/INTELLIGENCE-PANEL-OK-for-tiger-export-deemed-an-o-98229.html.
  33. China Wildlife Utilization and Marking System, http://www.cnwm.org.cn.
  34. State Forestry Administration and State Administration of Commerce and Industry (2004), 2004 Public notice No. 6, http://www.forestry.gov.cn/portal/main/govfile/13/govfile_1082.html.
  35. Pillai, Sridevi (June 5, 2005), Spot the tiger (The Hindu, India), http://www.hindu.com/mag/2005/06/05/stories/2005060500090100.htm.
  36. CITES SC53 Summary Report (2005), http://www.cites.org/eng/com/sc/53/sum/E53-SumRec.pdf.
  37. Shanghai Landscaping and Amenity Bureau (Nov. 2011), Concerning the Stockpile Audit of Marked Rare and Endangered Wildlife and Its Products, http://lhsr.sh.gov.cn/Front/BanshiDT/index.html?par1=3&par2=295&applyType=0285&businessFlag=2.
  38. Website of Hengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Wine Co. Ltd, http://nw03182.chinaw3.com/wine/en/company.asp
  39. EIA (2006), Skinning the Cat.
  40. Zhang, K. J. (Nov. 16, 2006), China’s trade in tiger bones (China Dialogue), http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/552-China-s-trade-in-tiger-bones.
  41. Jiang Zaiseng, personal communication to Save the Tiger Fund.
  42. Dinerstein, E., et al. (2007), The fate of wild tigers (Bioscience57(6): 508-514).
  43. State Forestry Administration and State Ethnic Affairs Commission (2007), 2007 Notice No. 206, http://www.forestry.gov.cn/portal/main/govfile/13/govfile_1092.html.
  44. CITES Management Authority of China (2007), Report on Implementing Resolution Conf.12.5 of CITES, CITES CoP14 Doc. 52 Annex 1, http://www.cites.org/common/cop/14/doc/E14-52A01.pdf.
  45. CITES Decision 14.69, http://www.cites.org/eng/dec/valid15/14_66-68-69_15-70.php.
  46. Gratwicke, Brian, et al. (2008), Attitudes Toward Consumption and Conservation of Tigers in China, (PLoS ONE, Volume 3, Issue 7, July 2008).
  47. Wan, Ziming (Feb. 2009), Can tiger bones of Captive-Bred Tigers Be Used in Medicine? (Big Nature Magazine).
  48. EIA (2009), Deadly Game.
  49. Global Tiger Recovery Program: Conference Document for Endorsement (2011), http://www.globaltigerinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Global-Tiger-Recovery-Program-Nov-4.pdf.
  50. CITES Management Authority of China (2010), Tiger’s Conservation in China (brochure).
  51. Anon. (March 12, 2010),11 Siberian tigers starve to death in China zoo (Agence France Presse), http://english.sina.com/life/p/2010/0312/308611.html.
  52. CITES CoP15 Summary Record (2010), http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/15/sum/E15-Com-II-Rec10.pdf.
  53. CITES Secretariat (2010), Report on Asian big Cats, CoP15 Doc. 43.1, http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/15/doc/E15-43-01.pdf.
  54. CITES Management Authority of China (2010), Comments on CoP14 Doc.43.2 (brochure).
  55. China GTRP Implementation Priorities in 2011 (April 2011m Delhi Workshop).
  56. Global Tiger Recovery Program Annex: National Tiger Recovery Priorities – “Great Efforts the Chinese Government Has Undertaken to Save Wild Tigers.”
  57. Premier Wen Jiabao (Nov. 2010), Speech delivered at International Tiger Forum, St. Petersburg, Russia (unofficial transcript prepared by the Global Tiger Initiative), http://www.globaltigerinitiative.org/2010/12/01/international-tiger-forum/.
  58. Watts, Jonathan (Dec. 6, 2011), ‘It’s really good stuff’: undercover at a Chinese tiger bone wine auction (The Guardian, UK), http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/dec/06/china-tiger-bone-wine-auction.
  59. China’s National Tiger Recovery Plan to the Global Tiger Initiative (2010).
  60. CITES Secretariat (Jan. 2013), Report on Asian big cats, CoP16 Doc. 50 (Rev. 1), http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/16/doc/E-CoP16-50.pdf.
  61. CITES Management Authority of China (Sept. 2012), CoP16 Doc. 50 (Rev. 1), Annex 3b, http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/16/doc/E-CoP16-50-A3b.pdf.