Chinese tiger farms have come under renewed scrutiny after wildlife officials confirmed that a team of investigating journalists had been served tiger meat at a farm’s restaurant.
Journalists with British television network ITN visited Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain farm in Guilin, China, in February and sent some of the meat they were offered at the farm to a Chinese laboratory. DNA tests established it was tiger meat.
The farm’s owner called the analysis fraudulent, but CITES senior enforcement officer, John Sellar, said. He said on Monday that a respected US laboratory had reviewed the Chinese test and said its findings “appear to be valid.”
“We expect the issue to generate significant debate over whether China should continue allowing unlimited breeding by private owners, who then claim financial pressure and push to reopen trade to pay for their operations,” said Steven Broad, executive director of wildlife monitoring group TRAFFIC.
Conservationists fear that Chinese authorities are being pushed by wealthy investors in tiger farms to end the 14-year domestic ban on tiger product sales.
Such a move would be disastrous for the world’s estimated 5,000 wild tigers, the conservationists say.