Thousands of tigers are dying in despicable conditions on farms masquerading as wildlife parks to feed a thriving multi-million dollar business in China for wine made with their bones, a MailOnline investigation discloses.
Newly-wealthy Chinese clienteles who cling to the old-fashioned belief that tiger bone wine makes you stronger and peps up your sex life are paying up to £400 a bottle and driving a remarkable growth in tiger farming.
Sold as a health stimulant and aphrodisiac in bottles shaped as tigers, the wine is surging in popularity with online sales and a implicit government acceptance of the trade making it easier than ever to order for the dinner tables of the country’s growing rich exclusive.
Starved: This scrawny creature is one of thousands of tigers being bred on overloaded ‘farms’ in China, which open their doors to the public as holidaymaker attractions. Predictably, they are not popular
Craze: In fact, the farm proprietors don’t care if the animals starve to death – they are just engrossed in the doomed tigers’ bones (pictured) which they turn into wine and vend for as much as £400 a bottle
Tiger bones are soaked in rice wine for up to eight years and then bottled with a combination of Chinese herbs and snake extract to harvest a sickly-sweet 38 per cent proof brown liquor that tastes like a combination of cough medication and cheap brandy.
Distressingly, our research found, China’s thirst for the unlawful product is so great that current tiger farms are increasing and breeding more animals while neighbouring countries counting Laos and Vietnam are setting up new farms to feed demand.
Cruel: This is in spite of the fact breeding tigers for their parts is illegal. A MailOnline investigation discloses the full horror of what goes – where ravenous animals fight over scraps of food in corroded cages
We penetrated tight security to get rare images and video of withered tigers at a wildlife park in Guilin, southwest China, which entices barely any visitors but now has an unbelievable 1,800 tigers – making it the biggest captive collection of tigers in the world.
Here, we found row after row of tigers in dilapidated enclosures – some waist-deep in weeds – at the rundown Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain where the tiger populace has nearly doubled in the past decade in spite of only drawing hardly any of daily paying visitors.
Demand: And the number of these dreadful farms is on the upsurge as demand for the luxurious drink, thought to make men more fertile, grows with the development of China’s middle classes
Workers and residents told us the park will soon be traded to tycoon owner Zhou Weisen to make way for new homes and the tigers are moved to a new site five miles away which is three times the size to deal with with the rising tiger population.
When the tigers of Xiongsen pass away, either of old age, disease or fights with other tigers, they are taken to a plant deep in Zhou’s hometown, a rural remote place 250 miles from Guilin called Pingnan, where their carcases are soaked in huge vats of rice wine for up to eight years.
Despite a world-wide ban on breeding tigers for their parts, tiger bone wine is acquiescently sold in a shop attached to a five-star hotel belonging to Zhou where we were offered a 500ml bottle of tiger bone wine improved with tiger penis for £418.
Caged: Tiger in lonely enclosure in Xiongsen Tiger Park in Guilin, officially a wildlife preservation centre
Solitary: This tiger is held in an enclosure on its own at the park where animals are expected to perform for paying guests
Industry: There are now a projected 6,000 captive tigers in China – more than twice the population left in the wild globally. There are worries the number could very soon rise to 10,000
Inside the hotel, guests are offered list of options with a range of tiger wine on offer to go with meals with Zhou’s face highlighting on some bottles. Here, the price of a 500ml bottle of six-year-old tiger wine from the adjacent factory costs the equivalent of £150.
Each dead tiger can harvest wine with a retail value of hundreds of thousands of pounds – and that is afore the animal’s skin, teeth, whiskers and other bodily parts so prized in traditional medication are disposed of.
Breeding tigers for body parts is forbidden under the international wildlife conservation treaty CITES to which China is a participant – but the Chinese government has granted an exclusion to breeders of captive-bred tigers who argue their farms decrease poaching of wild tigers.
There is no suggestion Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain is doing anything unlawful.
Value: Each deceased tiger can harvest wine with a retail value of hundreds of thousands of pounds – and that is afore the animal’s skin, teeth, whiskers and other bodily parts are disposed of for traditional medication
Protection: The Chinese government claims farms like these are essentially good for the tiger populace, as it avoids poachers killing them in the wild – something which conservation groups strongly differ with
Factory: The tigers will end up someplace like this after they die, the ‘Xiongsen Wine Company’ where their bones are drenched in rice wine for eight years and sold for big proceeds
Remote: The Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Village is in the south-west of China, in a township called Guilin
Conservation groups ferociously dispute the claim, saying that by driving demand tiger farms boost poaching in countries like India where the cost of a tiger slain in the wild is far lower than the price of raising a caged tiger.
Vats: After being soaked the bones are bottled with a combination of Chinese herbs and snake extract to harvest a sickly-sweet 38 per cent proof brown liquor that tastes like a combination of cough medication and cheap brandy.
Source: Amazing Wildlife