top of page
  • Writer's picturebrillopedia


Author: Remya Gupta, II year of B.A.,LL.B. from Indian Law Society,pune, Maharashtra



Wildlife trade in Southeast Asia is a major development problem, draining forests of biodiversity, increasing inequality, and making good governance more difficult. Wildlife is taken from countries as diverse as Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia with an end destination of China, the largest source of demand in the region. Wildlife trade is the second largest form of black market commerce, behind drug smuggling and arms. While local poachers can make relatively good money for their illegal activity in India a single tiger skin can fetch $200 from a low-level dealer, or 6.5% of Indian per capita-the real profit goes to International dealers who can go on to sell the skin for up to $10,000.[1]


Territorial domination is frequently breached by the growing hegemony of the human population and illegal means of earning a livelihood.

Tiger numbers globally have been decimated by poaching, trade, and habitat destruction in the past century, though more recent conservation efforts in some countries have stabilised overall population numbers.According to TRAFFIC's report, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia saw significant increases in seizures in the first six months of 2022, compared to the same period in the previous two decades.Indonesia, home to the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger, saw an equivalent of 18 tigers seized between January and July, compared to 16 in the whole of 2021.Since 2000, an average of 150 tigers, both dead and alive, have been seized per year from 50 countries and territories worldwide - equivalent to a total of around 3,377 tigers.While the overall number of seizures has declined since 2018, notable increases were seen in China and India, as well as Vietnam, which saw a 185% jump in confiscated tigers compared to the four years prior, the group said.TRAFFIC also identified 675 social media accounts involved in the trafficking of tiger and tiger parts in Southeast Asia. About 75% of these were based in Vietnam[2].

According to Skin and Bones: Tiger Trafficking Analysis from January 2000–June 2022, the tigers and their parts were seized in 2,205 incidents, mostly in the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRCs). India, home to more than half of the global wild tiger population, remains the top-ranked country with the most incidents and number of tigers confiscated.

"The thousands of tiger parts seized are a testament to enforcement efforts, but they also speak to the continued threats tigers face. Poaching, trade and demand for tigers and their parts persist, compounded by the tiger farms which add to the illicit trade. Strong action is needed by governments to combat the pressure this puts on wild tiger populations," said Heather Sohl, Tiger Trade Leader at WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative[3].


With an Asset in the world’s Black market, the Tigers are usually referred to as ‘The Walking Gold.’ As the demand for the species is very high, the price continues to hit the sky like rocket speed.

Instability and the increase in non-state, armed actors also function as conduits for the trade. These non-state actors are involved in other forms of crime such as corruption, drugs and arms trafficking, sometimes funded by wildlife trade, which elevates this matter to the level of a national security risk. As a result, the response has become increasingly militarized as states grapple with stopping multiple forms of trafficking[4].

The wildlife-trafficking-militancy-nexus are often shrouded in unproven assumptions and myths. Crucially, they divert attention from several uncomfortable truths with profound policy implications: First is that the nexus of militancy in wildlife trafficking constitutes only a sliver of the global wildlife trade and countering it will not resolve the global poaching crisis. Second, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency forces, even recipients of international assistance, also poach and smuggle wildlife and use anti-poaching and counterterrorism efforts as covers for the displacement of local populations and land grabbing. Third, corruption among government officials, agencies, and rangers has far more profound effects on the extent of poaching and wildlife trafficking. And finally, local communities are often willing participants in the global illegal wildlife trade[5].


All parts of the tiger are traded and used, for traditional medicine and other purposes. Tiger bone is used in a variety of forms depending on the location. It is soaked in wine to make tiger wine, boiled down to make glue or cake, and ground into powder for use in pills, plasters, and other manufactured medicinal products. Of these, tiger wine and tiger glue (also known as cao, in Vietnamese, and gao, in Chinese) are believed to be the most sought-after products. Tiger bone is traditionally cleaned and fried in oil or vinegar to remove all flesh and cartilage. It is then ground into powder and mixed with herbs to make pills or added to camphor and menthol to make tiger balm. Certain tiger bone products are thought to have cultural preferences: tiger bone wine is more commonly associated with Chinese culture, whereas tiger glue is associated with Vietnamese culture. Aches and pain, bone and joint problems (such as arthritis and rheumatism), replenish calcium, anti-inflammatory, treat osteoporosis, boost sexual capability, and paralysis are all treated with bone wine. Fat heals Vomiting, dog bites, haemorrhoids, and scalp problems in youngstersSkins are used for clothing, magical amulets, trophies, ornamentation, and the treatment of mental illnesses.Eyeballs to treat epilepsy, malaria, fever anxiety in youngsters, convulsions, and cataracts Nose for treating epilepsy and convulsions in youngsters;Skin disease can be treated using the tail. Brain to Reduce Laziness and Heal PimplesLung Cancer Treatment Testes Lymph node tuberculosis;Blood to fortify the constitution[6].


INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE LAW-The conventions like (CITES) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, (CMB) Convention on migratory birds. (CBD) Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Protocol, the World Heritage Convention and the regional conventions are focusing on countries like Africa, Antarctic, or Europe. The sovereign states conclude agreements voluntarily in an international legal order, the lack of centralized legislative, executive, and judicial powers typically of domestic legal orders have limitations because the international law occupies an even smaller place within the conservation.

"CITES" came into force in 1975 as a mechanism for controlling the international trade of threatened and endangered wildlife.The ultimate aim of the Convention is the protection of certain plant and wildlife species against over-exploitation through international trade using rational and sustainable utilization.CITES specifically sets guidelines for states to follow in implementing their treaty obligations; however, it lacks an effective institutional mechanism for enforcement.

Legitimising or total Ban?As the tiger and rhinoceros approach extinction, conservationists must confront the major issue of ongoing debate within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ("CITES") about whether states should continue banning the trade of endangered species, the traditional approach to wildlife conservation, or take the more radical approach of legitimising the trade in order to generate the funds immediately needed to protect and save imperilled wildlife. A continued restriction on the trade of endangered wildlife is in the best interests of species conservation and will help the Convention's goals in the long run. While lifting the trade ban may provide immediate financial resources for animal conservation in the short term, it unnecessarily increases the risk of extinction.

Hong Kong was the first Southeast Asian government to completely ban all international and domestic trade in endangered wildlife parts and medicine containing endangered wildlife derivatives. Its control policy, having evolved into the strictest and most comprehensive system in all of Asia, has become a model for other countries striving to improve their internal regulation of the endangered species trade. Under Hong Kong's amended endangered species ordinance, any person found guilty of importing, exporting or possessing an endangered species without a license from the Agriculture and Fisheries Department (Hong Kong's Management Authority) will face substantial fines and possible imprisonment. As of January 1995, Hong Kong had enhanced its penalties for illegal endangered species trade to make violators liable for a maximum penalty of five million Hong Kong dollars and imprisonment for two years. More recently, the territory set up an Endangered Species Protection Liaison Group comprised of customs and law enforcement representatives to strengthen enforcement of trade controls in endangered species and improve the government's intelligence-gathering system on the trade.

Taiwan is recognized as the principal driving force behind international wildlife trade with a traditional medicine market both larger and more underground than that of Hong Kong. As direct trading links between Taiwan and China proliferate and the reversion of Hong Kong to China in 1997 becomes imminent, Taiwan plays an increasingly major role as the future hub for the illicit flow of tiger and rhino products into China. Although Taiwan is not recognized as a Party to CITES, it enacted its own Wildlife Conservation Law ("WCL") in 1989, which prohibits the import, export, trade, and display for sale of rhino horn and tiger parts. The Taiwanese government did not begin seriously enforcing the law until recently.' By July, it had re-evaluated its procedures for marking and registering endangered species parts and products and set up a computerized database to handle these tasks.

South Korea, Since its accession to CITES in July of 1993, it has actively pursued efforts to implement the Convention by amending its existing health and environmental laws so as to comply with CITES. In 1993, South Korea amended its Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, which stipulates legal trade procedures for the import, export and manufacture of drugs and health-related products, to include in its regulatory ambit wild fauna that are used for medicinal purposes. South Korea likewise amended its National Environment Preservation Law in July 1994 to reinforce provisions for controlling the international trade of CITES-listed species and their derivatives. In streamlining its permit issuance process, the government has consolidated its management authorities to strengthen communication between the multiple agencies involved. With greater interagency and administrative cooperation, it has also launched undercover investigations of traditional oriental pharmacies, wholesalers and retailersto enforce CITES. The government has further addressed enforcement concerning the tiger trade by marking and registering tiger bone stocks[7].

In India Tiger is the mode of transport of Shiv Durga while Lion is that of Vishnu Durga . Such associations are a subtle but an effective way of giving sanctity to atleast some of the prominent species. This country not only tops in number of tiger habitats but also in variability of the tiger habitats. Furthermore, India being predominantly the vegetarian country medicaments based on tiger bones and other parts have been unknown in this country. India has a solid legal and policy framework in place to regulate and prevent wildlife trade. The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 prohibits the trade of over 2000 species of flora and wildlife. To combat this trafficking, WWF-India, in collaboration with the government and other enforcement agencies, provides training and capacity building in its frontlines through TRAFFIC. Still, there is a lot of smuggling going on in India, and international markets are looking at Indian soil because of its rich biodiversity and eco-friendly nature. The Indian parliament also passed some key legislation, including:1. The Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, 2. Animal Cruelty Prevention Act of 1960, 3. Biological Diversity Act, 2002 also India launched Project Tiger in 1973.

China was Asia's last major consumer country to pass legislation barring all domestic commerce in endangered animals. The State Council banned the import, export, transportation, sale, and purchase of tiger bone and rhinoceros horn in 1993; ordered medicine producers to stop using rhinoceros horn and tiger bone; and mandated that all stockpiles be 'inspected, re-registered, sealed up, and properly kept'. Its prohibition on the production and domestic trade of rhinoceros horn and tiger bone was the result of intense international pressure from CITES, the United Nations Environment Programme, foreign non-governmental organisations, and the United States government[8].


“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Scarcity results in enhanced financial benefits for illegal traders, who adopt sophisticated and often violent means to defend their economic interests when combined with inelastic demand and a lack of suitable substitutes. The present-day need is to collate traditional conservation knowledge with the genetic evolutionary approach. However, there are some measures that can be implemented in the form of successful campaigns that require consequences for noncompliance and so that a stigma be associated with illegal activity. There is also a dearth of what is usually referred to as "political will," which is in low supply in many developing countries. In the case of wildlife, "lack of political will" manifests itself in extraordinarily extended prosecution timeframes, minor penalties, and little or no sentence.Tiger conservation can be achieved with the allocation of money alongside a genuine commitment to conservation by the government—including the proper channelling and spending of funds, with oversight and follow-up to meet goals, for example in Nepal National Tiger Committees have been created.The trade in tiger parts often transcends national boundaries, as do the drivers of habitat loss. International links require international action and regional cooperation. Thus, to address these overarching threats, a global forum of range-state leaders at the highest level to convene as a “Tiger Summit” which aims at securing a global pledge to protect the wild heritage of Asia[9].

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] Julie Cheung, Comment, Implementation and Enforcement of CITES: An Assessment of Tiger and Rhinoceros Conservation Policy in Asia, 5 Pac. Rim L &Pol'y J. 125 (1995). [9]


bottom of page