In the wild, they prowl across hundreds of miles of jungle.


In contrast, these tigers share the wretched experience of battery hens.
Here in South-East China, hundreds of the endangered animals are cramped in tiny pens - and are slowly starved to death, say critics.
The reason, it is said, is that they are worth more dead than alive.
The Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Park is home to 1,400 tigers - more than live wild in India. Scroll down for more...
Dreaming of escape: One tiger paws at the netting as others look on from their sparse enclosure


Sticking together: A group huddle at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Park



Each year their numbers are replenished by the birth of hundreds of cubs.
Chau Wei Sum, who owns the park, says it keeps the animals from extinction and provides a tourist attraction.
But others believe his venture is effectively a farm - which, when the animals die, might provide body parts to the market for traditional Chinese medicines.
The trade in tiger-based medicines was banned in 1993 when China came under pressure from other nations concerned that the cats were being hunted to extinction.
However, the black market is profitable. A dead tiger can fetch up to 500,000.
Tiger bones are ground to a powder to improve strength. They are said to be worth 160,000 - more than ten times the price of the pelt.
Penises are sold as aphrodisiacs and whiskers are said to cure laziness.
The carcasses are also made into wine and brains mixed with oil to form an acne cure. Scroll down for more...
Penned in: Tigers are housed in rows of small cages at the park




Both the Save The Tiger Fund and the Wildlife Protection Society of India have accused the park of producing tiger bone wine.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has called for it be closed.
In a cold store at the park lie the skins of hundreds of tigers.
They have been skinned and gutted, perhaps in readiness for the law to be repealed.
Mr Chau is alleged to have sold some, supposedly to raise money to feed his tigers.
Ticket sales do not cover his running costs, he says. But prosecution is not something he fears, as the government supports his venture.
There are thought to be 50 wild tigers left in China. India has the greatest wild population, but it has halved in six years.

Battery farm for tigers: The 1,400 big cats whose body parts are prized on the black market | the Daily Mail

How can such beautiful creatures be treated so badly