24 July 1996 Society Conversation

Lion Vs Tiger

AS far as markets go, the lion is no competition for the tiger. While almost every organ of the tiger is marketable, canninalising lions for commerce is rather rare. In fact, except for its claws, the lion is worth nothing. Locals have been wearing claws as good-luck charms for ages. In Junagarh you can buy them for Rs 600. Its fanciers in Bombay and the Gulf may be willing to pay 10 times the amount.

The tiger, in comparison, is an oriental favourite. Its claws sell for Rs 6,000 and skin for Rs 25,000-35,000. In Chinese medicine, tiger bone wine is thought to be an aphrodisiac; tiger penis soup a great appetiser; and tiger urine anti-arthritic. Thanks to this million-dollar trade, the Manchurian tiger is now a has-been. And with Chinese medicine dealers on the lookout for alternatives, the Indian tiger too may follow suit.

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