A series of tiger farms which disguised as wildlife parks in Guangxi have been found purposely starving tigers to death in order to make tiger bone wine, a drink which some in China believe offers numerous health benefits and improved sexual performance.
According to Sina, one of the main reasons for the increase in the tiger trade is the declining profitability of the zoos, which can no longer rely solely on dwindling numbers of visitors to make money. A worker at one such zoo in Guilin testified, “There are so many tigers, it is not easy to make sure all of them are well fed”.
Back in 2010, 11 tigers were reported to have starved to death at a zoo in Shenyang after the owners ran out of money. At the time a zoo official was quoted as saying, “The zoo is in a financial crisis and we haven’t been able to provide the tigers with sufficient food for the last two years.”
The Guardian reports that there are between 5,000 to 6,000 tigers held on around 200 farms across China. The skin, bones, teeth and various other parts of the animal can be sold for approximately 65,000 yuan, an amount of money which incentivizes some struggling zoos to begin farming the animal.
It is traditionally believed that drinking tiger bone wine can bring numerous health benefits, improving circulation and curing arthritis. It is also said to enhance sexual performance. Today the drink is seen as a status symbol by wealthy consumers.
Many conservationists believe that the outlook for these animals is looking increasingly bleak, with proposed changes to China’s wildlife laws classifying endangered species as “natural resources” that can be bred in captivity for commercial purposes.
By Sarah Lin
[Images via NetEase]