The Ethics of Tiger Farms
On February 23, CNN posted an article exploring the potential benefits of “tiger farms” – in which tigers “would be bred in captivity then culled for their body parts.” The main reason for this, proponents say, would be to provide enough tiger items to reduce the impact of poaching on tigers in the wild. Frequent Tiger poaching occurs in China because of the ancient belief that tiger bone helps to cure illnesses.
Basically, the article advocates destroying captive tigers to protect wild ones…destroy a tiger to save a tiger. While the basic concept of the idea can be understood (saving wildlife), what people fail to see is that tigers are tigers — and destroying some will not necessarily help to save others, especially when obtaining wild tigers is, in a sense, free of charge.
The article cites Keshav Varma, leader of the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative’s statement “that legalized tiger farming is ‘too great a gamble for the world to take. We cannot know for sure if tiger farming will work. And if it does not work the downside risks are just too high– irreversible harm.'”
This irreversible harm comes not only from telling people that it is ok to kill tigers for their skin and bones, but also from allowing people to legally kill defenseless animals, purposefully bred to be slaughtered to save their tiger relatives. Instead of exacerbating the destruction of an endangered species, people should be advocating to build the species back to a healthy level.
These tiger farms bear an eerie resemblance to “clone farms” discussed in Never Let Me Go and Brave New World. It also connects to Moreau’s ideas in The Island of Dr. Moreau that manipulation and control, including slaughter, of animals is acceptable and without moral consequence. Certainly Moreau sees the impact of societal dangers posed by his vivisection techniques, but what these tiger farms fail to see is that they are not solving the environmental problem of tiger extinction, they are allowing society to believe that this kind of solution is justifiable.