A viral video of Siberian tigers chasing and destroying a drone hides a very dark secret.
Footage posted on social media shows the animals chasing the drone before knocking it out of the sky.
The footage, originally posted by China’s state-run media network CCTV+, was shared yesterday by ITV News. The 47 second clip was quickly picked up by others and shared thousands of times.
In the eyes of ? ??: A drone is knocked out of the sky after being chased by a group of tigers in China pic.twitter.com/fiEghQKwR4
— ITV News (@itvnews) February 23, 2017
Of course not everyone who uses a drone to look at tigers is doing it for all the horrible reasons you will read below.
At the Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien, David Etienne worked in collaboration to use a drone to observe tigers in a natural habitat.
Some people like Etienne are working extremely hard to preserve tigers, as you can see in the video below:
David exclusively told Unilad:
It was so unexpected and had never been filmed before.
It’s a great way to see their looks, their movement and their communication. Piloting a drone allowed us to see how a prey would react in the presence of these magnificent creatures.
There’s so much detail that you cannot see without the drone, that they’re driven by the same instincts to mate and protect their territory and play.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares that sentiment.
The location of the ITV video is given as being Heilongjiang Province in China. However, it has since emerged that the footage was likely filmed on a tiger slaughter farm in the province called Harbin Siberian Tiger Park.
Journalist Jon R Platt, who specialises in environmental reporting, has taken to Twitter to point out that China currently has an estimated seven wild tigers left. As there are at least 11 in this video, it’s likely the footage was taken at a tiger farm.
Platt wrote: “Reminder: China has an estimated *7* wild tigers left. Many more in this video = obviously a tiger farm. They’ll be turned into bone & wine.”
Reminder: China has an estimated *7* wild tigers left. Many more in this video = obviously a tiger farm. They'll be turned into bone & wine https://t.co/7hxmkSDei2
— John R Platt (@johnrplatt) February 23, 2017
A 2013 report from the Environmental Investigation Agency named Harbin as one of the biggest tiger-breeding centers in China. But they’re not breeding them for conservation – they are bred for meat, bones and their pelts.
Tiger bones and meat are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine and wine, while their striped coats go into making fashion accessories.
And this isn’t the only time Harbin Siberian Tiger Park has come under intense scrutiny.
The park recently came under fire after pictures of overweight tigers were shared online. However, the park blamed bad camera angles and claimed it is normal for Siberian tigers to eat a lot over the cold winter months and gain that amount of weight.
— Animal Rights (@AnimalRRights) February 8, 2017
But a spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare told the Metro that ‘based on the photos, it appears these tigers are obese’, adding that they do not need to ‘stockpile weight for lean times’ like other animals.
Ben Pearson from World Animal Protection said the park’s recent drone footage exposed ‘the plight of tiger farms in China’.
These facilities breed tigers for tourist entertainment while they’re alive, and their parts are reportedly used for luxury and medicinal products.
Among the welfare issues with the footage is that tigers are solitary animals, so it is unnatural for so many to live together.
According to ABC News, Pearson said the Harbin Siberian Tiger Park was transformed from a farm into a tourist park after a national ban on the domestic trade of tiger bones was instated in the 90s.
It remains one of the largest of its kind in China.