An estimated 3,200 tigers are left in the wild. That number has conservationists demanding that tigers be protected. One organization taking part is the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, whose TigerTime campaign has launched a petition to end China’s tiger trade.
According to Look to the Stars, the petition was started one year after China’s Premier Wen Jiabao promised the country would “vigorously combat poaching, trade and smuggling of tiger products” at the International Tiger Conservation Forum in St. Petersburg in 2010. A loophole, the 2007 Skin Registration Scheme, allows “legal skins” to be registered and sold, including from cats bred in captivity. Jiabao and the government have been unclear as to how the skins are determined to be legal, and illegal poaching and trading continues.
The petition calls for a complete end to China’s trade of tigers. It reads, “I appeal to Premier Wen Jiabao to send a clear message to his government, calling for an end to all tiger trade within China. This is to include a call for a zero tolerance policy applied to all trade of all parts and derivatives of tiger and other protected Asian big cats, from all sources.” The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is backing the campaign. Debbie Banks, EIA’s Lead Campaigner, says “EIA has often worked with the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation as a fellow member of the Species Survival Network and is pleased to wholeheartedly endorse its TigerTime petition. China has had more than enough time to begin putting its house in order along the lines of Wen Jiabao’s promises in Russia, but instead of shutting down the tiger farms and embracing a zero-tolerance policy on the trade in tiger and big cat skins and derivatives, it instead seems dead set on heading in the wrong direction.”
Along with the EIA, celebrities have joined in the TigerTime campaign. Stars supporting the petition include Susan Sarandon, Paul McCartney, Joanna Lumley, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry, Roger Moore, Joan Jett, Jeremy Irons, Anjelica Huston, Paula Abdul, and more.