Big cats in the International Trade - assessing the role of zoos and aquariums

Johanna Stärk (Member of author group), Dalia Amor Conde (Member of author group), Ana Rita da Silva (Member of author group), Lionel Jouvet (Member of author group)

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPosterResearch


The international wildlife trade is a multi-billion industry with severe impacts towards ecosystems function if not managed sustainably. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulates those species assessed by the parties to be threatened by the trade. Nowadays 75% of all animal’s specimens traded are reported as non-wild caught in CITES. Even though many rules apply to trading these species, many specimens from wild origin are falsely being traded as “captive bred”. Recent analysis on targeted species, show that the numbers of individuals traded as captive bred are impossible to breed given the biological limits of the species and the infrastructure needs. CITES has identified six cat species of concern: the snow leopard, Uncia uncia, the clouded leopard, Panthera pardus, the leopard, Neofilis nebulosa, the Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica, the Bengal tiger, Panthera tigris tigris, and the Amur tiger, Panthera tigris altaica). In this project, we aim to determine the exports and import trends from 1975 to 2016 with the aim to see if the trade of specimens “as not wild taken” has significantly increased. Then we analyzed from 2005-2016 only those specimens that are captive bred in the international markets. For this last analysis, our preliminary results show that the trade of captive bred individuals for the six species is on an average of approximately 264 live individuals being traded each year. For the species where we see a high number of traded individuals each year, the main purpose is circus/travelling exhibition. However, for species where the trading is low, the main purpose has shown to be zoos. Geographically we found that The United Arab Emirates is the main importer of clouded leopards, leopards, and Bengal tigers. South Africa and Russia are the biggest exporter of Bengal tigers, but South Africa also has a big role in the trade of leopards. Zoos and aquariums can play a big role on estimating both the biological limits and costs of breeding big cats with the aim to support the surveillance of laundered specimens.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date22. May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 22. May 2018
EventEAZA Conservation Forum 2018 - Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 22. May 201825. May 2018


ConferenceEAZA Conservation Forum 2018
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Big cats in the International Trade - assessing the role of zoos and aquariums'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this