2022 is the year of the tiger, and it hurts tigers

2022 is the year of the tiger, and it hurts tigers

Tigers have always fascinated people. In the year of the tiger 2022, the big cat seems to be ubiquitous in consumer culture. At the same time, the number of tigers in the wild continues to decline. Is there a connection?

Like the European one, Chinese astrology knows twelve signs of the zodiac. However, unlike the European cycle, the individual constellations are not assigned to the twelve months of the year, but instead a full year is devoted to the same animal. A complete cycle of the Chinese zodiac is 12 years. After 2021, the year of the ox, 2022 will be the year of the tiger. But what does that really mean?

The tiger in tradition: Admired and feared

Tigers are a symbol of power and strength in many cultures.
Tigers are a symbol of power and strength in many cultures.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / lessplay1525)

As in the European zodiac, certain properties are assigned to the Chinese constellations. People born in the year of the tiger are said to be characterized by courage, a thirst for adventure, optimism, assertiveness, and a willingness to take risks. So the tiger symbolizes a number of powerful and positive character traits.

Last but not least, it is this symbolic power that makes the tiger so popular in Chinese tradition, but also in other cultures. basically there is one Tension between admiration and fear: On the one hand, the tiger appears as a majestic and proud creature that evokes a certain awe with its appearance alone. On the other hand, it is also perceived as a threat to humans, as wild, dangerous and bloodthirsty. A fascinating contradiction.

Despite this symbolism, the situation has been reversed: today it is mainly the tiger that is threatened by humans. According to WWF estimates, there were still around 3,890 tigers in the wild in 2016, making them one of the endangered species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) also lists the tiger as endangered. In many cases, the attention and admiration given to animals does them more harm than good. This is particularly evident once again in the year of the tiger.

Tiger pattern in fashion: wide demand and fast fashion

In the year of the tiger, tiger-related products are particularly popular.
In the year of the tiger, tiger-related products are particularly popular.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / ignartonosbg)

The tiger aesthetic also has a long tradition in fashion. The striking stripe pattern makes the wearer stand out from the crowd and symbolizes strength and self-confidence. However, real tiger skin has now become a rarity, not least because its trade is illegal under the Washington CITES Species Convention. “Animal prints”, that is, fabrics artificially printed with an animal skin look, are generally used as a substitute.

That doesn’t sound too bad at first; after all, unlike real fur, animal print textiles don’t have to kill tigers. But the many artificial products that flood the market in the year of the tiger also have their troublesome side. The Asian and, above all, the Chinese market play a particularly important role in this trend: the Süddeutsche Zeitung estimates that around two billion people in Asia celebrate the year of the tiger. is correspondingly large Demand for tiger-like products. Many of these products are made in China itself. However, Western fashion brands are also aligning themselves with this demand, especially in view of the strong Chinese economy.

Meeting such a broad demand requires products that can be produced quickly, cheaply, and in large quantities. They can then be resold at a lower price. The downside to this is that these textiles are often of poor quality and have a short shelf life. “Disposable clothing” of this type is also included under the general term fast fashion famous.

Fast fashion has numerous negative impacts on the environment. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that toxic chemicals are often used in the manufacturing process. On the other hand, production consumes large amounts of natural resources, especially water. These problems are only compounded by the fact that the finished products are so short-lived. Frequent changes of clothing, decorations or toys increase sales and further increase production. This is reflected in the rapid increase in consumption in recent years: according to Greenpeace, clothing sales almost doubled between 2002 and 2015 alone.

Prada, Gucci and Co. – The tiger as a symbol of luxury

Even luxury brands have discovered tiger stripes as a motif.
Even luxury brands have discovered tiger stripes as a motif.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / SusuMa)

In addition to the fast fashion industry, international luxury brands have also recognized the potential behind the Year of the Tiger. The SZ reports that, among other things Gucci, Prada, Valentino and Burberry caught the trend. Prada, for example, launched the “Action in the Year of the Tiger” campaign in connection with the Year of the Tiger. It must not only convince with fashion aesthetics, but also draw attention to the precarious situation of the tiger, which is in danger of extinction.

Even if this is a major concern, fashion brands should primarily be concerned with sales revenue when choosing a theme. The Chinese market is once again playing an important role for tiger-like designer pieces: according to figures from the McKinsey Institute, Chinese consumers account for the largest share of the global luxury goods business. By 2025, this proportion will increase to 40 percent.

Sometimes the tiger itself becomes a luxury product that is used for merchandising. Gucci promoted its 2022 tiger collection with images showing models next to real tigers. This drew much criticism from animal rights activists: they complained that Animals in photo sessions for promotional purposes I wouldn’t have lost anything. PETA, for example, requested a petition to end such campaigns as a matter of principle. However, according to SZ, Gucci rejected the criticism. Consequently, the tigers were only added to the publicity photos afterward and were not present at the shoot.

Also in the Year of the Tiger: tigers are still considered a trophy

In captivity, tigers generally do not live in conditions appropriate to their species.
In captivity, tigers generally do not live in conditions appropriate to their species.
(Photo: CC0/Pixabay/Ralphs_Photos)

Successful campaigns like Prada or Gucci show that tigers continue to fascinate people. On the other hand, they make it clear that dealing with endangered predators must be different today than in the past. Prada’s “Action in the Year of the Tiger” campaign makes a direct reference to the endangered tiger population. But critical reactions to Gucci’s publicity photos also prove that the public has at least some interest in species protection and species-appropriate husbandry.

In practice, the situation is often different: despite their danger and the contrary of numerous laws, tigers are still hunted, killed and mistreated. According to the analysis of the protection organization TRAFFIC since the turn of the century an average of two tigers are poached each week.

There are several reasons for this: on the one hand, tiger skins, heads or paws are still considered objects of prestige and symbols of courage and strength. On the other hand, she is writing. Chinese medicine different parts of the tiger’s body. According to WWF, that’s why China is the main market for the tiger trade. Trade in tiger bones has recently been allowed again there. But there is also a big market in Vietnam. The bones are in demand, among other things, as a remedy for arthritis, as a powder or in the form of “tiger wine”, rice wine with pickled tiger bones. Tiger penis is considered a powerful aphrodisiac. None of these effects have been medically proven.

In addition to the fewer than 4,000 tigers in the wild, there are around 20,000 tigers in captivity worldwide, according to the WWF. By no means all of them live in an appropriate breeding for their species. In the reviews are especially special Tiger zoos in Thailand, Laos or Vietnam. They attract tourists as “petting zoos” but are suspected of illegally trading the animals. However, it is often not possible to keep exotic animals such as tigers according to species, even in conventional zoos. The German Animal Welfare Association, for example, criticizes this. Furthermore, numerous tigers are kept privately, also mainly for reasons of prestige or profit and in inappropriate living conditions.

Fascination for the tiger – A double-edged sword

Even in the year of the tiger, the endangered animals remain a popular hunting trophy.
Even in the year of the tiger, the endangered animals remain a popular hunting trophy.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / ChiemSeherin)

Tigers continue to get a lot of attention, and not just in the year of the tiger. Its external appearance seems impressive and aesthetically pleasing to us. Different cultures attribute qualities such as strength, pride and courage to them. This makes the tiger an animal that many people want to identify with. It also explains his Attractive as a trophy or prestige item: Whoever owns the trophy symbolically claims the strength of the tiger for himself. Similar thinking underlies the medical use of tiger bones and other body parts.

So there is a very problematic side to the human fascination with the tiger. It encourages tiger hunting, trade in skins and body parts, and the display of tigers captured in poor living conditions. Pointing out this problem is, of course, important. However, as long as the Year of the Tiger focuses primarily on the aesthetic appeal of animals, it may be contributing to the problem itself rather than solving it.

Read more on Utopia.de:

** marked with ** or orange underline Some links to supply sources are affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.de, because we then receive a small part of the proceeds from the sale. More information.

Do you like this post?

Thank you for your vote!

Tags: like animals animal welfare