Tiger parts being sold as jewellery in Spore

SINGAPORE: Tiger parts that have been smuggled into Singapore are being openly sold as jewellery and amulets in the retail capital of Southeast Asia, an animal welfare group said today.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society said it conducted an investigation of

more than 130 jewellery and antique shops and found just under half offered products made from tiger parts like claws, teeth and fur.

Of the 59 shops selling such items, 52 were openly displaying the items for sale, the group said at a news conference.

Shopkeepers offered ACRES activists posing as buyers hundreds of

items purportedly from tigers but the group

said it could not verify whether all of them were authentic.

“Whether it’s real or it’s fake, it’s actually driving up the demand for tiger parts in this region,” said Louis Ng, the executive director of ACRES.

The products included claws set in gold or silver and worn as jewellery, amulets made of teeth with a piece of prayer paper rolled into them, and cuts of skin said to have been blessed for protection or strength.

Fewer than 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, down from an estimated 100,000 a century ago, and that number is still declining, ACRES said in a statement. Butchered for traditional medicine, deprived of their habitat and killed for encroaching on villages, the onslaught has already

seen three sub-species wiped out and the South China tiger has not been sighted for decades.

Video evidence from the investigation, which was conducted from December 2009 to February, showed one shopkeeper offering a piece of “blessed” tiger skin that he said came from Songkhla in Thailand. Another shopkeeper was caught on camera offering a necklace made from a tooth that he said came from Thailand, while a third said he had to stock up on tiger parts due to the pick-up in demand during the lunar new year. Shopkeepers named Thailand, China and India as their main sources.

Ng said Singapore played a key role in

the illegal trade.

“It’s critical especially for Singapore because

all our neighbouring countries have tiger

populations. We don’t want to be driving up the demand for these products at this time when they are so critically endangered,” he added.