For Blood of the Tiger: A Story of Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save a Magnificent Species

“The world is aware (or by now should be) of the plight of tigers, bears, rhinos, and elephants, all in the cross-hairs of international poaching rings trafficking in animal parts for luxury goods and traditional medicines. But there is also a more quiet, insidious threat to these species, particularly tigers and bears: the rise of the new concept of ‘farming’ these animals. Animals are stolen from the wild or taken from their owners and then bred in captivity, kept in small cages, and raised for their parts. Mills, who has written for wildlife magazines and worked for the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International, stumbled upon this story when she saw a captive sun bear in a small cage in Bangkok. She follows a trail of bears captured to eat, bears held and ‘milked’ of their bile, and tigers raised for their bones and beautiful striped skins. Along the way, she becomes enmeshed in the international politics of saving endangered species, as well as the internecine conflict that can occur between rival conservation organizations, and tells an absorbing insider story of trying to save truly wild tigers, a battle that is not yet won.”

— Booklist

“Conservation consultant Mills examines the failure of conservationists to stop the commodification and farming of endangered tigers. In certain parts of the world, tigers and other exotic species are valued for their uses in traditional medicine, food, luxury clothing and taxidermy products. In recent years, there has been an explosion in the farming of these animals. The author fell in love with tigers after her first sight of one in the wild. However, despite her passionate descriptions and some cute nicknames for certain key players, this is not a romantic adventure story. It is a memoir of her two decades investigating the illegal trade in endangered animal products and her efforts to end it, dealing with farmers, politicians, medical professionals, sanctuary owners and warring conservationists. Mills argues that creating legal markets for farmed tigers and other exotic species only increases the illegal trade in higher-status wild animals and that if we want to prevent extinction in the wild, we must eradicate consumer demand for these products. She describes successes in convincing the traditional Chinese medicine community to back conservation and in using celebrity advertising directed at consumers. She also shows the daunting political and economic obstacles and the failures of conservationists, including herself, that led to the current situation: There are now more tigers on farms than in the wild in China, and there are thousands of privately held, untracked tigers in other nations, including the United States. As is often the case with stories of underfunded activists fighting against industrial and political interests, this is a frustrating and tragic story, but Mills offers neither false hope nor despair. The author provides a list of resources for readers inspired to take action, in addition to a substantial set of notes. A telling inside view of 20 years in international tiger conservation work, including the successes, failures and the work that is still required.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“If you love animals, you must buy this book. J.A. Mills exposes the trade in endangered animals with zest, verve, and outrage. A stunning read.”

—J. Maarten Troost, author of Headhunters on My Doorstep and Lost on Planet China

Blood of the Tiger is a heart-pounding read that takes us along on J.A. Mills’ journey through the dark and sometimes dangerous realities of wildlife conservation. Mills is detective, double agent and guide through a mapless labyrinth of politics, cultural differences, and the economics of greed and poverty. This book is a potent antidote to the despair and helplessness many of us feel observing the race to save tigers and other endangered species—a book that infuses one with renewed passion, determination and hope.”

—Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club

“By turns thrilling and sobering, Blood of the Tiger is an urgent, heroic book that takes you under cover and behind the scenes of today’s global, multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade. A must-read for conservationists, and anyone concerned about the fate of wildlife on this planet.”

—John Vaillant, author of The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

Blood of the Tiger may be the most important book you read this year. It will make your blood boil—but also make your heart sing. J.A. Mills’s courageous and captivating investigation of the trade in tiger body parts reveals some sickening secrets, as well as showcasing fearless, creative heroes. Read this roller coaster of a book and take action for tigers—before it’s too late.”

—Sy Montgomery, author of Spell of the Tiger

“What an extraordinary, must-read book for anyone interested in international wildlife policy! From her seat at the center of it all, J.A. Mills has pulled back the curtain on the global effort to save the tiger and in doing so has given the world a primer for any effort to save the world’s iconic species: tigers, elephants, rhinos, whales, and more. Endangered species need accountability. Blood of the Tiger makes those who got us here accountable.”

—Bryan Christy, director of Special Investigations at National Geographic, author of The Lizard King

“Personal, engaging, shocking, informative. J.A. Mills exposes the dark secrets of the tiger trade and bares her soul, her passion, and her determination to bring about change. I believe there is still hope for wild tigers. Blood of the Tiger is real and raw, intelligent and compelling and, in the final analysis, a story that must not be ignored.”

—Will Travers, OBE, president of the Born Free Foundation