The Chinese government allows the illegal trade of tiger skins, a Chinese delegate was forced to admit yesterday after being confronted at an international conference on endangered species. A report, which according to the International Business Times included graphic content, detailed the way China facilitates the trade of captive tiger skins. That presentation "created a situation that required China to respond," one participant tells the BBC. "We don't ban trade in tiger skins," the Chinese delegate reportedly admitted, "but we do ban trade in tiger bones."
It was China's first admission that it allows the trade and "created quite the sensation" at the meeting, according to the BBC report. A UK-based environmental group then jumped in to make perfectly clear that "the trade in China is happening on a commercial scale," rather than "as something done for scientific research or, say, displays in the museums," one campaigner said. Tiger skins are considered a desirable luxury item in China. Wildlife experts say the "farming" of captive tigers—there are thought to be as many as 6,000 of them in China—is perpetuating the demand, leading to more poaching of wild tigers, of which there are believed to be around 3,000 globally. (Read more China stories.)