He asked one: "What happens if you catch a poacher? You kill him? He said, 'No, we just beat them up. They go back to their village and don't ever come back.' These people don't tolerate poaching because they want to keep the animals alive. They allow hunting. They allow photography. That is the way to save wildlife."
In China, thousands of tigers survive only because some tiger farms protect them. Their owners hope that next year the Chinese government will lift its ban on tiger product sales. Then they can make money off the traditional medicines.
That would be terrible, American conservation groups say.
"There is no need to farm tigers," says Judy Mills, of Conservation International (www.conservation.org). "[A] survey that we did recently in China ... showed that 90 percent of Chinese people actually support the ban."
It's nice that they said that, but half the people polled also said that they'd consumed products they thought contained tiger.
She conceded the point: "We know that Chinese people believe that having a bottle of tiger-bone wine in the cupboard is a nice thing to have around in case somebody has some aches and pains."
So what does it matter if they say they like the ban?
"Our method is working. But to a certain degree, it hasn't had a chance to work."
Please. Thirty-three years? How long can we wait? It's such a conceit for conservation groups to think a government decree can change thousands of years of culture.
What has worked is letting people own and profit from the sale of exotic animals. It's worked with elephants in Zimbabwe, rhinos in southern Africa and the bison in America.
Says Anderson, "If we make animals a marketable product, they will be saved."
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