Summary of “How China’s WeChat became a grim heart of illegal animal trading”

As well as the gambling, brothels, and drugs, Chinese tourists have an appetite for endangered animal products: elephant tusks, bear paws, pangolin scales, and the iconic orange and black-striped skins of tigers are the order of the day.
There are now fewer than 4,000 wild tigers remaining in the world, down from 100,000 in 1900, according to census data held by the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum.
Last October, China stunned the international community by reversing a 25-year-old ban on using tiger bones and rhinoceros horn for scientific and medical purposes.
The continued existence of tiger farms in Laos is a bone of contention, fuelling the belief that powerful interest groups are perpetuating the illegal wildlife trade.
Tiger farms emerged during the mid-1980s in an ostensible effort to reduce poaching of wild tigers, and as many as 8,000 are held in facilities across China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Captive tigers are showing up in the illegal trade.
Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple operated for years under the guise of tourism, selling selfies with sedated big cats and breeding tigers for sale, until 40 dead cubs were found in a freezer by wildlife investigators in June 2016.By September 2016, Laos announced that it would “Phase out tiger farms” within a year.
One of the facilities, the Vinasakhone tiger farm, close to the Vietnam border, can’t account for the disappearance of about 300 tigers between 2016 and 2018.Delays mean that the audit has not yet taken place, but the hope is that it will finally apply proper scrutiny and transparency onto the facilities.

The orginal article.