You would be forgiven for assuming that although rare, endangered animals have to contend with a variety of threats – ranging from poaching to habitat loss – the one thing they don’t have to contend with is being raised as a source of “exotic meat” for humans who believe that when it comes to mealtimes, “only forbidden flesh will do.” Because surely no one in their right mind would complain about efforts to ban the consumption of critically endangered animals like lions or tigers, on the grounds that it “curtails choice” … oh, wait. There are folks out there who think exactly that.
While the U.S. finally cracked down on the lion meat trade earlier this year, critically endangered animals continue to be sought out all over the world for their “exotic” flesh. However, the Amur tiger cub featured in this article was lucky enough to be spared this grisly fate and is now on the road to recovery!
Police in Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, recently intercepted and seized the container in which the cub was being held. He was in the process of being illegally smuggled into China after his mother had been shot. Authorities believe that he was likely destined to end up on someone’s plate … just another sad victim of the exotic meat trade.
Several of the cub’s would-be smugglers were arrested while police are working to track down the remaining members of the gang.
Luckily, the orphaned tiger is now safe from harm and is being rehabilitated in Moscow.
He was understandably terrified when rescuers first approached him.
Anton Kulbachevsky, senior Moscow environmental official, said, “Parts of bodies of tigers obtained in Russia basically go to China. They are in demand for Chinese medicine and cuisine. In fact (tiger meat) is considered a delicacy. People pay huge money for this.”
Since arriving at his new home, the baby tiger has made friends with an adolescent lion called Boniface, who was also seized from poachers at a young age.
Sadly, he cannot be returned to the wild, as carers believe he now lacks the experience that he would need in order to survive without his mother.
While the tragedy of his mother’s death cannot be undone, it is such a relief to know that this cub will be cared for and shielded from human cruelty. Let’s hope that he gets to live out the remainder of his days in peace and security!
Meanwhile, his species – the Amur or Siberian tiger – is seeing a gradual rebound in numbers after being brought to their lowest level of just 40 individuals during the 1930s. Their population now stands at around 500, and a series of recent rescue-and-release operations performed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has given animal lovers further reason to believe that this species can be saved. To find out more about conservation efforts for these animals, and how you can help, check out the Amur Leopard & Tiger Alliance (ALTA) or Save Tigers Now.
All image source: Daily Mail UK