The illegal trade in tigers, tiger parts and their derivatives drives the poaching of wild tigers and undermines conservation efforts throughout their range. This is heightened by the continued existence, and even growth, of tiger farms – facilities that breed captive tigers and function as a source for the trade in tigers and their parts and products.
The trafficking of tigers and other wildlife is facilitated by corruption, weak or poorly implemented laws, inadequate law enforcement, and a lack of political will, among other things. While the required response may sometimes feel overwhelming, many resources are already available for improving efforts to stop tiger trafficking, wildlife trafficking, or trafficking more broadly.
2022 is the Lunar Year of the Tiger, which offers a renewed opportunity for increased focus by tiger range countries and for political momentum behind tiger conservation as a whole. The tiger range countries are expected to commit to needed conservation actions for the new Global Tiger Recovery Programme.
To support this, a number of partners involved in tiger conservation, including EcoJust, have developed a comprehensive framework aiming to address the illegal trade in tigers and their parts and products, both from wild and captive sources: the Tackling Tiger Trafficking Framework. Launched on 24 November 2022, the Framework sets out solutions that are known to be effective, based on best practices in tackling the trafficking of tigers and other wildlife species, and in combating other serious crimes, such as human, weapons and drugs trafficking.
The Framework does not attempt to “reinvent the wheel”, but rather pulls together currently available, effective and relevant resources and information from other crime areas and provides context as to their application towards tackling tiger trafficking. As such, this Framework aims to provide governments of tiger range countries and other countries affected by illegal tiger trade with the guidance needed to address the complex issue of tiger trafficking.
The Framework focuses its interventions around four core pillars:
- Laws and Policies: to address the illegal trade in tigers and their parts and derivatives, it is imperative to have strong/ stringent, clear laws and policies in place.
- Criminal justice system capacity: an effective criminal justice response to tiger trafficking requires adequate enforcement powers for law enforcement agencies tasked with fighting wildlife crime; sufficient resources; expertise; and integrity of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges.
- Cooperation: tiger trafficking is a networked, associative, transboundary crime, whose response requires multidisciplinary, multi-jurisdictional interventions. Thus, national, inter-agency, regional, and international cooperation is crucial to tackling tiger trafficking.
- Private sector engagement: engaging the private sector to support government efforts to tackle tiger trafficking would encourage political will, facilitate intelligence gathering and sharing, and help find novel approaches to solving complex problems in tiger trafficking.
Underpinning these pillars are the cross-cutting pillar, Tools, and two foundational requirements, Political will and good governance and Monitoring.
While governments are the primary audience for this Framework, international organisations, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders are urged to provide technical and/or financial assistance where needed.