Tigers migrate to China…in pieces | WWF

Tigers migrate to China…in pieces

Posted on
20 April 2012
Customs officers in Primorsky Province in Russia’s Far East have arrested a suspect found attempting to smuggle three Amur tiger paws across the border into China.

The arrest comes only a day after Primorsky police and the Federal Security Service discovered a large quantity of illegally obtained animal parts - including bear paws and pelts as well as two Amur tiger skins - in the province’s port city of Nakhodka. A businessman from the city and his accomplices have been arrested in relation to the incident.

In the latest smuggling incident, a Chinese national was caught with the tiger paws hidden in plastic bags taped to her body. An examination of the paws revealed that they belonged to two Amur tigers.

“The examination determined that two of the paws were left hind paws, which means they cannot belong to one animal,” said Sergei Aramilev, biodiversity conservation programme coordinator with WWF-Russia’s Amur branch, and who participated in the examination. “This sadly means the parts belong to two individual tigers. The paws were dried in a manner commonly used in Tibetan medicine.”

In the past two weeks, the Police and Customs Agency of Primorye have uncovered the remains of at least four tigers. The killing of Amur tigers and leopards is considered a crime, which carries criminal liability and a fine of 500,000 rubles (US$17,000).

“The Customs Agency and customs experts deserve special gratitude for obstructing this crime,” said Mr. Aramilev. “As it is obvious that the paws are only part of a load, it is necessary to locate the rest of the tiger body parts.”

A 2010 WWF study shows that effective protection measures over the past 50 years has helped the Amur tiger population in the Russian Far East bounce back to between 430-500 individuals. This increase also means that there is a much stronger chance Amur tigers will migrate into neighboring China – intact.  

More than a year after the historic tiger summit in St. Petersburg set a goal to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, WWF is calling for intensified efforts to end tiger poaching. In December 2011, WWF launched the Zero Tiger Poaching campaign to lobby governments from the tiger range countries to take immediate joint action to end poaching of wild tigers. Each tiger killed illegally sets back the goal of doubling wild tiger numbers.

With as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, the illegal tiger trade is the most immediate cause of the wild tiger’s dangerous decline. Poaching is also the greatest barrier to long-term goals for the survival of the species. WWF asks for concrete action to strengthen the capacity of the rangers, officials and local communities that put their lives on the line every day to protect tigers.

For more information, contact:

Yulia Fomenko, Communication manager, WWF-Russia, Amur branch
+7 4232 414868, yfomenko@amur.wwf.ru
Three Amur tiger paws confiscated by customs officials in Primorsky Province in Russia’s Far East. The illegal tiger trade is the most immediate cause of the wild tiger’s dangerous decline.
© WWF Russia
The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is the largest of the five remaining tiger species.
© WWF Russia / Vasilii Solkin