Tiger Skin Trade China
Siberian tiger cubs are seen at the Dalian Forest Zoo in Dalian, Liaoning province.Reuters

China has admitted for the first time ever that it permits the illegal trade of captive tigers' skins at an international convention, according to participants and officials.

"We don't ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones," a member of the Chinese delegation at the meeting said.

The admission was made at the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cities) and officials say that Chinese authorities had never before reported that the trade of tiger skin was allowed in the country.

A report - with graphic content - on how China's government facilitates the tiger skin trade was presented at the international convention, officials say.

"The report presented in the meeting created a situation that required China to respond," one participant told the BBC on condition of anonymity.

"Basically when the meeting focused on the findings of this report, the Chinese delegate intervened and it was then when this admission came.

"It was the first time they admitted officially that this trade exists in China."

It is believed that Chinese traders buy tiger parts from Indian poachers at heightened prices due to demand within China as tiger parts are believed to bring good luck to the owner.

The skins are also viewed as luxury items, being used as clothes and lavish home decorations.

The poachers and traders also deal in the skins of leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards with teeth and the bones from the species taken also.

According to estimates, between 5,000 and 6,000 tigers are believed to be held captive in China.