A National Geographic film about the work of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to expose the illegal underworld of tiger trafficking has been named Best News documentary at the 33rd International Wildlife Film Festival, in Montana, USA.
Produced by Red Earth Studio in London for the National Geographic Channel, the hour-long documentary “Eco Crime Investigators–Inside The Tiger Trade” goes undercover with a team from EIA as they probe the shadowy black market in tiger skins and bones, EIA said in a news release yesterday.
Revealing the extent of the hugely lucrative illicit market in tiger parts, which poses a dire threat to the world’s remaining wild tiger population, the film will premiere in the UK on Nat Geo Wild on May 24 at 10 p.m.
“Eco Crime Investigators–Inside The Tiger Trade” reveals that China remains a major consumer of tiger and other Asian big cat products; skins are sought for home décor, taxidermy and bribery while products such as bone are widely used in traditional Chinese medicines and treatments, EIA said.
“During the film EIA exposes the role of the Chinese military as major consumers of tiger and other big cat skins and also encounters traders continuing to operate with impunity despite being uncovered by previous EIA investigations,” the agency said.
“To be named Best News documentary at the 33rd International Wildlife Film Festival is a fabulous boost for our work to protect tigers” said Debbie Banks, EIA head of Tiger Campaign.
“This is the Chinese Year of the Tiger and a perfect opportunity to bring pressure to bear to end this on this despicable and damaging trade–securing such a prestigious award can only help increase awareness.
“The film comes at a crucial time. In the autumn all eyes will be on the Global Tiger Summit planned to take place in Russia and for signs that renewed political commitment to save the wild tiger will translate into action to end the tiger trade,” Banks added.
EIA is a UK-based non-governmental organization that investigates and campaigns against environmental crime.
Current estimates suggest that there may be as few as 3,100 tigers left worldwide. Already three subspecies of tiger have become extinct in the last 100 years.
The long-term goal of the EIA is that Asian big cat populations recover from the current status and that the global wild tiger population rises to 5,000 by 2020.
The Chinese Year of the Tiger began on February 14, 2010.
Watch this related National Geographic video about the tiger trade: