This past Wednesday, Republican Senator Ted Cruz posted a photo on his Facebook page which immediately became the target of harsh criticism from Republican and Democratic voters alike. The image showed Cruz, along with another Republican Senator, posing next to what appears to be a tiger skin rug. The photo was posted with the caption “Did a little shopping for the office with United States Senator Mike Lee in Houston today.”
Tigers are currently one of the world’s most threatened animals – topping the list of endangered species due to poaching, demand for illegal tiger goods and loss of natural habitat. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the number of tigers living in the wild has declined by 97% during the last century. Today, only 3,200 known tigers exist outside of captivity.
According to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, it is illegal to import, buy or sell the pelts (or any other parts) of tigers in the United States. Unfortunately, skins taken from animals killed before the ban are considered exempt and can legally be owned and traded.
Although it may, technically, be legal to own the skin of a tiger that was killed before the ban took place, concerned citizens have pointed out that the Senator’s picture still raises ethical questions. Although Cruz’s spokesperson claims that the photo was posted as a joke, this poor attempt at humor may encourage others around the world to follow his lead and purchase a skin of their own. A rising demand would not only impact the price of legal skins, but would encourage the illegal hunting of living tigers as poachers seek to turn a larger profit.
Photo Credit: Senator Ted Cruz’s Facebook Page
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