LONDON (Reuters) - Animal rights charity FOUR PAWS UK urged the European Commission on Thursday to ban all commercial trade of tigers involving the EU.
Trade in wild tigers - an endangered species - is banned in the European Union but the breeding and trading of tigers held in captivity is allowed. Non-commercial trade is when, for example, a tiger gets transferred to a sanctuary.
"Tigers are no party props, no selfie motifs, no cuddly toys, no home accessories and no medical miracle cure. Tigers are endangered wild animals that need our protection," said Kieran Harkin, head of wildlife campaigns at FOUR PAWS.
Asked about the appeal, a Commission spokeswoman said the EU's executive arm did not plan any immediate measures but that the issue would be discussed among member states at a forthcoming meeting of enforcement authorities.
A live tiger fetches up to 22,000 euros ($25,400) on the Asian market and FOUR PAWS UK says between 1999 and 2016, 161 tigers were legally exported from the EU to Asia, where some believe that parts of the animal have medicinal properties.
European authorities seized more than 8,000 illegal tiger parts and derivatives in the period 1999-2016, the British charity said, adding that experts believe these seizures represent only a 10th of what is actually smuggled.
The Czech government recently suspended commercial tiger exports after the discovery in the country of dead tigers, skins, claws and bouillon concoctions from tiger bones. It also pledged more stringent controls on big cat breeders.
($1 = 0.8666 euros)
(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Brussels and Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Gareth Jones)