Tiger trade

Big cats are legally and illegally traded worldwide, including tigers and lions. According to FOUR PAWS a live tiger is worth about €22,000, a kilo of tiger bones is available for about €1,700 and a litre of tiger wine - an allegedly medicinal broth of tiger bones - can be bought on the black market for €85. This trade is driven by the production of traditional Asian medicine. It was already common knowledge that Asia plays a major role in this trade, but more recently it became apparent that Europe is involved as well.


Between 1999 and 2016, a total of 862 live tigers were legally imported into the EU and 1,412 live tigers were legally exported, which means that the European tiger trade would be worth more than €50 million. During the same period 8,278 illegal tiger products, such as tiger stock cubes, teeth and claws and 57 illegal live tigers were seized in the EU. The gruesome trade in endangered tigers is widespread, with evidence of illegal activities in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The trade of tigers from the wild is illegal in the EU, but the trade is captive-born tigers is not.

Shocking findings in Czech Republic

During raids near Prague in July 2018, the Czech authorities discovered a dead tiger and tiger bones, tiger broth and other tiger products. In order not to damage the fur, the arrested suspects killed the animals with a bullet in their eyes. One of the suspects is a well-known owner of a zoo who is active in the trade of tigers to Asia. When the Czech authorities launched raids on the Vietnamese Sapa Market in Prague, it was found that tiger meat products were offered there for sale.


The findings in the Czech Republic are no isolated cases. Research by FOUR PAWS shows that animal traders have exported at least five live tigers from Germany, via the Czech Republic, to Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea. Further research in Vietnam shows that at least two of the tigers ended up in the hands of a convicted wildlife trader. Trade within the EU also often leads to serious welfare problems for big cats. In Spain a zoo named ‘Zooexoticoskiko’ offers wild animals, including tigers, for photo shoots. Even erotic pictures with wild animals can be taken. In some European countries it is possible to rent tigers for private parties.

During raids in July 2018 Czech authorities found a dead tiger and other tiger products.

Lack of transparency in the EU

Trading tigers from the wild is illegal in the EU, but trading tigers which were born in captivity is not. Legislation and enforcement have serious shortcomings. In addition, the exact number of tigers kept and traded in Europe is unknown, because transports within the EU do not require any CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) import and export permits. As a result, there are hardly any official documents that prove who is selling tigers, when, to whom and for what purpose.


Tigers and lions are under pressure from the trade in traditional Asian medicine. South Africa maintains a controversial export quota for 800 lion skeletons, which was based on cherry picked research and questionable deductions. This quota increases the pressure on living and other endangered big cats, by stimulating the demand for products from big cats. For tigers born in the wild and for captive-born lions different laws apply, while it is almost impossible to distinguish bones from lions and tigers, or to see whether the animals were born in captivity or in the wild. In this way legal trade can act as a cover for illegal trade.

In some European countries you can rent a tiger for parties.


FOUR PAWS started a petition that helps people call on the European Commission to ban commercial trade of tigers born in captivity and thus protect endangered species from cruel exploitation. SIGN NOW!



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