The number of captive tigers in Europe and the United States is more than double the number left in the wild, according to a new report.
There are at least 1,600 captive tigers in Europe, compared to just 3,900 wild animals in the world, says the global animal welfare organization, FOUR PAWS.
FOUR PAWS claim that tigers and cubs are being used as photographic props and for selfies in facilities in countries like France, Germany, Spain and Malta.
It is estimated that many tigers end up “losing their commercial value” and their body parts are sold for use in “traditional medicine” in Asian markets like China and Vietnam.
Previous data from 2018 officially documented only 913 captive tigers in Europe, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The new report comes just a month after a controversial documentary on Netflix's actual crimes, & # 39; Tiger King & # 39 ;, exposing tiger breeding and trading in the United States.
Private ownership of exotic pets and the use of tigers in circuses is still legal in several EU countries, but FOUR PAWS say trade is "poorly regulated and monitored" and many animals are abused in dire conditions.
Which European countries have the most captive tigers?
CITES prohibits the commercial trade of wild tigers and aims to ensure that any legal trade in tigers and parts does not impact the survival of the species. But captive tigers are listed in a separate CITES appendix, which allows for legal trade.
The Czech Republic and Germany recorded the highest numbers of tigers in captivity in Europe, with 180 and 164 respectively.
Meanwhile, the UK, where private tiger breeding is legal, is third on the continent, with 123 registered animals.
Slovakia also reported 119 tigers in captivity, although CITES registered only 3 in the EU country in 2018.
Only 17 of the 36 European countries contacted by four legs, including 12 EU member states, responded with numbers.
NGOs estimate that only Italy, one of the countries that did not respond, has 400 tigers kept in zoos, private homes and circuses.
A live tiger bred in captivity in Europe can cost up to € 22,000, while a kilogram of tiger bones can be valued at € 1,700.
Four legs say that many animals in captivity cannot be rehabilitated in the wild, while their illegal trade also fuels the demand for global poaching of wild tigers.
"More efforts are needed", admits the EU
The organization urgently urged the European Union to "suspend the export and re-export of live tigers and parts of tigers", except to legitimate sanctuaries, to combat animal abuse,
FOUR PAWS further recommended that the EU introduce a comprehensive ban on commercial tiger trade.
The animal welfare organization had already launched projects focusing on the suffering of animals kept in inadequate conditions, as well as in areas of disaster and conflict.
The European Commission adopted an action plan against wildlife trafficking in February 2016 improve efforts against wildlife crime in the EU.
But despite the encouraging signs, the Commission stated that "More efforts are needed" combat the illegal trade in exotic animals.
"Wildlife trafficking continues to pose a serious threat to biodiversity, the rule of law and sustainable development," said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, in 2018.
"We need to further intensify our efforts to achieve the objectives of the Action Plan by 2020 and meet the UN Agenda 2030 goal for Sustainable Development."
Progress on the European Commission's action plan is expected to be assessed later this year. Euronews contacted the Commission for further comments.