World Bank warns on tiger farming

Experimenting with tiger farming is too risky and could drive wild tigers further toward extinction, according to the World Bank. “Extinction is irreversible, so prudence and precaution suggest that the risks of legalised farming are too great a gamble for the world to take,” a bank official, Keshav Varma, told the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) standing committee.

“We cannot know for sure if tiger farming will work,” added Varma, who leads the bank’s Global Tiger Initiative. “And if it does not work, the downside risks are just too high — irreversible harm. Having carefully weighed the economic arguments, we urge the CITES community to uphold the ban on wild tiger products and for all countries to continue to ban the domestic trade of wild tigers.”

The bank executive also called on the international community to support efforts to phase out tiger farming. “This is the only safe way to ensure that wild tigers may have a future tomorrow,” Varma said.

The environment organisation WWF endorsed the World Bank’s statement, noting that tiger trade is prohibited internationally and banned domestically in all of the animal’s range countries. Historically, China is the largest market for tiger products. Owners of privately run tiger farms and some wealthy business people across China have been pressuring the government to allow legal trade in tiger parts within the country, and to lift the domestic trade ban implemented in 1993.

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