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International Tiger Day: Still no protection for these majestic cats under SA law

This is an excerpt from an article written by Mike Cadman and published online by IOL on 29 July, 2020.

Today (Wednesday 29 July) is International Tiger Day, an event designed to raise awareness to the dire circumstances facing the world’s largest cat. There are fewer than 4000 tigers left in the wild and they now are found in only about four percent of their original range.

The last thing these endangered creatures need is more threats to their existence but unfortunately the South African government’s policies on the captive breeding of tigers and lions amounts to just that – a major conservation problem which is contributing to the plight of wild tigers in Asia.

According to several South African based NGO’s there are between 1000 – 1500 tigers held, often alongside lions, leopards, jaguars and other cats, in at least 60 breeding facilities around the country. There are between 8 000 – 12 000 lions held in captivity in South Africa.

“Although, as most people know tigers are not indigenous to South Africa, they are bred here for live export top zoos elsewhere in the world, for their skins and even for their bones which are used in traditional Eastern medicine,” Blood Lions, one of several organizations campaigning against the continued captive breeding and trade in big cats.

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Update: the most recent statistics by the World Animal Foundation show an increase in tiger numbers as of 2023 with 5,574 tigers believed to be living in the wild.