Regardless of the agony it caused my heart, bravissimo and thanks for throwing light on the hellhole that is Laos when it comes to wildlife [“Tracking the tiger butcher,” special section, May 19].
Eternal shame on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and any environmentalists who stand by while Karl Ammann risks life and limb to expose the China-driven decimation of Southeast Asian tigers.
Here’s hoping this article prompts change, somehow, somewhere — though admittedly I’m less than hopeful in the face of our enduring wickedness, selfishness and greed.
Marsha Johnston, Arlington
I was grateful for the exposé on tiger abuse and sales, although it was difficult to read and left one with almost a sense of despair about whether this inhumane and exploitative practice can be stopped. Counter-trafficking conservationist Karl Ammann is a hero. My hope is that the article has raised awareness and will bring more individuals and resources to bear against this cruel and wasteful behavior that is damaging our planet and our moral sense of who we are as human beings.
Marjorie Schulenburg, Laurel
The May 19 special section on one man’s quest to stop the trafficking of tigers underscored the dire threat that illegal wildlife trade poses to tigers. But while Asia’s tiger farms supply tiger parts and products that help fuel this gruesome industry, we must also address the problem of the United States’ captive tigers. Today, the United States has an estimated 5,000 tigers in captivity, mostly outside of accredited zoos. That’s nearly as many as China and far more than the approximately 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild.
Existing U.S. regulations are insufficient to ensure that our captive tigers are not also fueling the illegal trade. The United States has a history of bipartisan leadership in fighting wildlife trafficking, but we can’t solve this global crisis and demand Asia’s tiger farm countries do their part without getting our own house in order. We need to discourage private tiger ownership and rampant breeding, while also ascertaining the number of captive tigers in the United States, who owns them, when they are sold and traded, and what happens to their valuable parts when they die. Passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act would go a long way toward achieving these goals and ultimately securing a future for wild tigers.
Leigh Henry, Washington
The writer is director of wildlife policy for the World Wildlife Fund.