VoA reported this week one of 16 tiger cubs seized from illegal wildlife traffickers was mostly likely reared in an illegal tiger farm in Thailand and destined for China.
Tougher law enforcement and regional cooperation to combat wildlife and timber trafficking is needed in South East Asia, says the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
The call comes as Thailand steps up investigations on tiger farms, after a high profile raid uncovered tiger parts and trophies at a Buddhist temple in western Thailand aka Tiger Temple.
Thailand has long grappled with a reputation as a key transit and destination point for trafficked wildlife from as far away as Africa to the poaching of its own Indochinese tigers.
In 2007 Thailand adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) resolution calling for an end to the intense breeding of tigers for commercial use.
Renewed attention on tiger farms and their potential dark side of trafficking to lucrative markets in China and Vietnam followed the raids on the famed “Tiger Temple” in late May. The temple was a high profile tourist attraction, with estimated annual revenues at of more than $3 million a year.
Investigations are underway into the other zoos and tiger holding centers in Thailand. Wildlife protection groups say Thailand’s policy of licensing zoos, clearing them to breed tigers has helped to stimulate trafficking instead of curbing it.
Animal welfare groups welcome the Thai Government’s move to strengthen legal protection for all wildlife, including tougher penalties including a minimum jail term of four years for trafficking with greater direct involvement by non-government groups to assist in the care of confiscated wildlife.