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More than 2,300 tigers killed and trafficked this century: Report

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GENEVA More than 2,300 endangered tigers have been killed and illegally trafficked since the turn of the century, according to a report published on Tuesday.

With an average of more than 120 illegally trafficked tigers seized each year - which amounts to over two each week - since year 2000, conservation group Traffic warned there was little sign of respite for the species.

Report author Kanitha Krishnasamy, who heads Traffic's South-east Asia operations, said the numbers were deeply concerning.

"It looks like we are losing this fight," she told AFP.

In 1900, more than 100,000 tigers were estimated to roam the planet. But that fell to a record low of 3,200 globally in 2010.

Population numbers have inched upwards, but there are still estimated to be fewer than 3,900 tigers left in the wild.

"This pernicious trafficking, evidenced by the continuously high number of whole skins, whole animals - both dead and alive - and bones is testament to the ongoing demand for tiger parts," Ms Krishnasamy said.

Traffic published a new analysis looking at 19-years of tiger seizure data. It found an estimated total equivalent to 2,359 tigers were seized from 2000 to 2018.

Skins are the most frequently seized tiger part, with on average 58 whole skins seized each year, the report found, also noting a clear increase in seizures of whole animals, dead and alive.

The study highlighted the growing role breeding centres play in fuelling the illegal tiger trade, especially in South-east Asia.

The tiger farm industry often argues the trade in captive animals helps relieve pressure on wild felines, but wildlife groups argue it reduces the stigma around buying the animals or parts and could create new markets.

"Seizures of tigers from captive facilities continue and serve as a stark reminder that such facilities seriously undermine conservation efforts to safeguard this species and provide opportunities for laundering and other illegal activities," said senior Traffic crime analyst Ramacandra Wong.- AFP