Tiger lying on the ground

CITES CoP19: FOUR PAWS calls for better protection of big cats

Demands include phasing out all tiger farms, and imposing trade sanctions on governments that contravene CITES Decisions


Vienna/Panama City, 14 November 2022 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS calls on Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19) starting today in Panama City to better protect big cats. That includes phasing out all tiger farms, and imposing of trade sanctions on governments that contravene CITES Decisions.

FOUR PAWS will host a side event at CoP19 on 21 November, where Wildlife Trade Expert, Kieran Harkin, will speak on how South Africa and Europe – despite being Parties to world wildlife trade regulatory body CITES – are in contravention of Decisions and Resolutions by continuing to breed, commercially trade, and export captive-bred tigers and export large numbers of big cats to Asia.

“For years, we have been investigating the commercial trade of live big cats and their body parts and are campaigning to change legislation in key areas of the world such as South Africa and Europe. Our role at CoP19 is to evidence where the system is failing as well as where international agreements are not being enforced and fight to ensure that the future of big cats is in the wild, not in captivity,” says Harkin.

Vanessa Amoroso, Head of Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS, says CITES CoP19 comes at a pivotal time in human history: “Conversations on sustainability and biodiversity are becoming more and more commonplace around the world as people shift to be increasingly aware of the interconnectedness of environment, animal and human welfare and health. This is the generation of positive change. Now is the time for leaders to be on the right side of history.”

For FOUR PAWS the main question to address is how commercial trade impacts the decline of all big cat species, as well as how international trade agreements can be more effectively used to protect them from further decline.

“FOUR PAWS will be calling on all countries to support four key recommendations starting with the implementing of effective legislation that mirrors the key resolutions in CITES. Parties will also be requested to strengthen their role in fighting wildlife trafficking and adopt a One Health approach to international wildlife trade to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Support for the improvement of reporting and transparency of wildlife trade will also be called for.” 

Sarah Locke, Head of Programmes at FOUR PAWS in South Africa.

The focus of the FOUR PAWS side event will be the non-implementation of existing Decisions and Resolutions related to tigers and the wider implications for all big cats.

“While each of the big cat species within the Panthera genus are in decline, Parties to CITES have allowed their populations to grow behind bars. The reality is that tiger farming is increasing worldwide and exists outside of tiger range countries. It is stimulating a demand not only for tiger parts but also other big cat parts and contributing to the decline of all big cat species,” says Locke.

The legal big cat trade acts as a conduit for illegal trade. The first step to protecting big cats is the effective implementation of existing CITES Decisions and Resolutions, starting with Parties that evidently do not implement these, but play an obvious role in the commercial and illegal trade of tigers and their parts. 

Notes to the editor:

  1. At the event on the 21st in the Panama Convention Centre with the theme revolving around the contravention of resolutions and regulations related to tigers and big cats, other speakers will be joining the panel discussion: From the Environmental Investigation Society, Debbie Banks, jaguar expert Ricardo Moreno and a Senior Advisor from the Ministry of Environmental Affairs of Panama, Shirley Binder.
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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations


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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org

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