The Year of the Tiger - Demanding protection for big cats across the globe

The UK remains complicit in the vicious cycle of abuse of big cats  


As we mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year of the tiger, FOUR PAWS is highlighting the widespread exploitation of big cats across South Africa. In parallel to this, we continue to call for the UK Government to finally enshrine its promises to prohibit the import of hunting trophies in law and cut ties with this vicious trade.  

Our new ‘Year of the Tiger?’ report highlights the undeniable evidence that South Africa is violating international trade agreements by intensively breeding tigers and farming other big cat species for commercial purposes. An eye-watering 95 tiger parts, including 54 trophies, were exported from South Africa between 2011 and 2022 – a particularly shocking number for a non-native and endangered species, which were all captively bred. Where those tigers eventually ended up is unknown, but as our government dithers and delays on its legislation around trophy hunting, the UK remains a complicit player in a vicious cycle of abuse.   

South Africa is in the grips of a big cat crisis. The ‘Year of the Tiger?’ report goes on to state that no one knows how many tigers are kept in private facilities in South Africa, but the reality is that captive-bred live tigers and tiger parts are being exported from South Africa in worryingly high numbers, many of which are for commercial and personal use. Between 2011 and 2020 alone, a total of 359 live tigers, were exported from South Africa, primarily to Vietnam, China, and Thailand, known hotspots for demand in tiger parts and illegal trade. 

Animal Charity

How we can play a part 

Despite the report highlighting the worrying big cat trade in South Africa, a global change is needed if we are to reverse the swift decline of the world’s big cat species. Captive breeding, canned hunts and the sale of the parts and derivatives from South Africa fuel the commercial big cat trade. Whilst the UK may not have its own large-scale big cat farming facilities, the country is supporting this trade by allowing the import of hunting trophies to pass through its borders.  

Since December 2020, references and promises have been made about introducing stronger legislation in the UK against the import and export of hunting trophies. But as of February 2022, there has been little change, despite us and many other NGOs submitting evidence on why a total ban is needed. So many of you have supported our calls to action already and we may need your help once again to ensure our voice is heard and action taken to protect animals.  

Big cats need our help and whether that is by signing our petition to ban the commercial trade of big cats in South Africa or joining in our calls for tighter UK legislation you can send a clear message that this abuse of animals will not be condoned.  Sign the petition here

Stay tuned for more updates on how you can join us in calling for the UK Government to #GetTheBanDone and news from South Africa as our campaign to end the vicious cycle of big cat abuse continues.

read our full report

Animal Charity

Hannah Baker

Head of Communications UK

Hannah heads up the Communications team for FOUR PAWS UK and handles all press and marketing enquiries as well as managing the social media accounts. Having worked in the animal welfare sector for nearly a decade she has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of what we can do to help our animal friends at home and further afield.

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