Wildlife groups urge China to keep tiger trade ban

Any easing of China's ban on selling tiger hides and bones could be catastrophic to efforts to save the endangered wild cat, leading conservation groups said on Tuesday.
TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring project of the Swiss-based WWF and World Conservation Union, said it was concerned Chinese officials would succumb to pressure from businessmen seeking to revive commerce in tiger parts for use in clothing and traditional Chinese medicine.

China’s ban, introduced in 1993, has virtually eliminated the market for medicines made from tigers in what was once the world’s largest consumer of such goods.

Environmentalists believe there are only 5,000 to 7,000 tigers remaining in the wild, with the largest number in India.

But in China, investors in "tiger farms" — housing an estimated 4,000 tigers bred in captivity — have been lobbying authorities to legalise trade from such facilities.