Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tigers As Commodities

The destruction of the wild for expansion of Palm Oil production in Asia is the greatest threat to the last refuge of the wild Tiger.The Ape Will Lie Down With The Tiger That and the Chinese taste for Tigers.

China criticised for 'tiger wine'

BBC[Wednesday, April 18, 2007 15:49]
A recent poll declared the tiger the world's most popular animal
A recent poll declared the tiger the world's most popular animal
China has come under fire for allowing tigers to be bred for the production of so-called "tiger bone wine".

The drink is reportedly made by steeping tiger carcasses in rice wine. Those who drink the wine believe it makes them strong.

Chinese delegates at the International Tiger Symposium in Nepal are arguing for the lifting of a current ban on the trade in tiger bones and skins.

But other Asian nations with threatened tiger populations want the ban to stay.

Emotive issue

There has been a forceful exchange of views on the issue at the symposium, according to the BBC correspondent in Kathmandu, Charles Haviland.

Experts say there are several reasons why tiger numbers have drastically declined, but just one has grabbed the limelight, our correspondent says.

The argument centres on the existence of so-called "tiger farms" in China, which have bred thousands of captive tigers with the ostensible purpose of entertaining visitors.

But the conservation group WWF, which is chairing the symposium, says these farms are fronts for the production of tiger bone wine.

WWF also says the captive tigers cannot survive in the wild, and believes the production of wine and underhand trade in skin and bones also threaten to make wild tiger poaching more lucrative.

A senior WWF official said the discussions were heated, with Chinese academics saying their country should lift its ban on the trade in tiger parts.

But experts from states like Nepal and Bangladesh, which have threatened tiger populations, are urging that the ban should remain.

On Wednesday, a more formal forum of government delegations will begin discussing the fate of the majestic beast, which a recent television poll declared to be the world's most popular animal.

Businesses call for lift on tiger parts ban

Kathmandu - The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has expressed concerns over a campaign by Chinese businessmen to lift a ban on the trade of tiger parts, Kathmandu media reported on Wednesday.

"Since China is the biggest market of tiger parts, the lifting of the ban will affect conservation efforts," the English-language Himalayan Times quoted Sue Lieberman, the director of the WWF's global species programme, as saying. "This is going to be the real and biggest threat for the tigers and the tiger conservationists."

Businessmen are reportedly putting pressure on the Chinese government to lift the ban and are also stepping up their campaign on the international community to allow China to commercially breed tigers for their body parts.

International trade in all tigers and tiger products is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

However, wildlife organisations said illegal trade in big cat skins and body parts is worth about $8-billion a year. The tiger body parts are in high demands in China and other East Asian countries for their perceived medicinal value.

The concern expressed by the WWF coincided with the start of an international tiger symposium in Kathmandu that was being attended by tiger experts and conservationist from 12 nations, including China.

The symposium is to discuss tiger conservation in 10 Asian countries and draw up strategies to protect tigers, which are considered an endangered species.

The WWF estimated 5 000 to 7 000 tigers live in the wild, of which about 4 000 are royal Bengal tigers found in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

The WWF said that over the past 100 years, tiger numbers have declined by 95 percent and three sub-species have become extinct - with a fourth not seen in the wild for more than 25 years.

The latest government figures from Nepal said about 370 tigers live there in the wild, distributed in Chitwan National Park in central Nepal and Bardiya National Park in western Nepal. - Sapa-DPA

Beasts of burden

As with humans, those animals that cannot profitably be integrated into the productive process are simply discarded. Domestication has focused on a narrow number of species; others not entirely domesticated have been preserved for recreational slaughter - such as deer. But many other species have been exterminated altogether, threatening the biodiversity of the planet. In ‘colonial India and Africa, the flower of British manhood indulged in veritable orgies of big game slaughter’. In north America, the wolf ‘became the symbol of untamed nature’ and was exterminated in most areas, as earlier in Europe, while between 1850 and 1880, 75 million buffalo were killed by hunters (Thomas). In each case, mass slaughter was seen as part of the divinely sanctioned transformation of wilderness into civilisation.

The same mania of extermination fuelled the hunting of humans defined as animals, such as the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, or the indigenous population of the Philippines, the subject of ‘goo-goo hunts’ after the US conquest of 1898.

Many other animal species have disappeared because of the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat. The animal industry is often directly involved in the wrecking of fragile local ecosystems, particularly when forests are cleared to make way for grazing land.

Today we are used to seeing the last survivors of endangered species conserved in zoos. The origin of these zoos formed part of the same colonial mentality that exterminated so many creatures: ‘the spectacle of the zoo animal must be understood historically as a spectacle of colonial or imperial power’ (Baker) with the captive animals serving as ‘simultaneous emblems of human mastery over the natural world and of English dominion over remote territories’ (Ritvo).

Anthropocentric humanism has been detrimental to humans as well as animals: ‘The brutal confinement of animals ultimately serves only to separate men and women from their own potentialities’ (Surrealist Group, cited in Law). What Camatte calls ‘the biological dimension of the revolution’ will involve the rediscovery of those aspects of humanity, some labelled as ‘bestial’, that have been underdeveloped by capital such as rhythm, imagination and wildness.

One consequence of this would be that humans would no longer see themselves as always above and distinct from other animals: ‘Communism... is not domination of nature but reconciliation, and thus regeneration of nature: human beings no longer treat nature simply as an object for their development, as a useful thing, but as a subject... not separate from them if only because nature is in them’ (Camatte).


Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

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