were also in the spotlight at this month's international wildlife convention, but whether the big cats will be big winners or losers in the long run remains to be seen.
In a formal rebuke, members of the UN wildlife trade group called on China to stop its practice of raising captive tigers for sale in the traditional-medicine trade.
Nearly 5,000 big cats are being kept in so-called tiger farms
in China, where entrepreneurs have been pressuring the government to lift its ban on the domestic trade of tiger parts.
The nonbinding decision condemning the farms was approved by the 171-member group, including the countries with wild tiger populations—Bhutan, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Russia, and Nepal (see a map of Asia
The international conservation group WWF hailed the decision in a press statement as "a major victory for big cat conservation."
"The world spoke today and urged China not to reopen any trade in tiger parts and to increase protection for tigers in the wild," it said.
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Photograph ) Joseph Van Os