ByÂ Devanshi Tyagi:
This Wednesday (27th February 2013), I read an article in ‘Hindustan Times’ about a certain “tiger tonic wine”. Apparently, China officially allows tiger body parts to be used in the making of a therapeutic wine. The bone of a tiger is soaked in the wine and then removed, the wine miraculously gets therapeutic properties and it is the “tiger tonic wine” now. Also, this doesn’t even come to light since the bone is not a part of the final product, and there is no need to list it in the ingredients. And further, this method might be seen as harmless by many as the tiger was dead when the bone had been extracted. But I say that it is not at all ethical; we humans have no right to manipulate even a dead animal’s body. And as far as rights are concerned, we have no right to even hold them captive.
But, China is being Janus-faced in this whole debate. It supports the protection of endangered species and in the 15th CITES conference held in Doha, Qatar in March 2010, an agreement was made between member states to protect the tiger. And then in their country, in these “tiger farms”, bottles of this wine are being sold for an astonishing amount of $30,400 per case. Also, this isn’t the first time that these farms are under the scanner. In 2012, there was a demand by India and UK, to ban the tiger farms themselves. It is alarming to know that there are 200 such tiger farms, not only in China but in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos with 5000 tigers in captive. It is an atrocious practice to keep them captive, as a tiger, who is a denizen of the wild, cannot be held in cages. It is against his very predatory nature. His life span reduces, there is a very high probability that he will be exploited and the very fact that they are in cages is a matter of exploitation.
But, digressing here from China, I found India’s call to these countries ironic. What is the state of affairs in our own country? We take out all sorts of conservation programs with Blake’s words “TIGER, tiger, burning bright” and beautiful illustrations, but what is the ground reality? A visit to the Delhi zoo will tell you. A friend who went there last month, said the tigers definitely are not like Aunt Jennifer’s tiger. Neither do they “pace in sleek chivalric certainty” nor are they “proud and unafraid”. They are malnourished, evidently ill treated and not adapted to the environment.
Remembering Naresh, (the royal Bengal tiger, who died in December in the Delhi zoo), zoo curator Riaz Ahmad Khan said the breeding programs were never successful with Naresh because of his ferocity. “Caught from the wild, he had never mated as he used to attack the female tigers,” said Khan. This speaks volumes about the injustice we are doing to the tigers, world over. It is tragic, atrocious and highly shameful.
And coming back to China, it is essential that the condition of tigers in these 200 tigers farms be made public. It is a completely inhuman arrangement and China has to be criticized and condemned for it.