reversal of a ban on the trade of rhinoceros horns and tiger bones for medical and scientific purposes following a groundswell of international outrage from conservation groups.hina has unexpectedly reversed its own controversial
Last month, China’s State Council said that doctors who have been certified by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine would be able to prescribe remedies of tiger bones and rhino horns for medical treatments. Both items are infamous ingredients in TCM concoctions with tiger bones believed to help cure conditions like rheumatism and arthritis, along with erectile dysfunction, and rhino horns thought to reduce swelling and stop bleeding.
China tried to portray the move as a tightening of restrictions aimed at controlling the trade of tiger bones and rhino horns, highlighting that in order to be used as medicine, tiger bones and rhino horns must come from farmed tigers and rhinos, according to the new regulation.
However, the obvious problem there was that it is virtually impossible to tell a farmed rhino or tiger from a poached one, especially as doctors would be allowed to acquire powdered forms of rhino horns and tiger bones for their treatments.
China is already the world’s biggest buyer of rhino horns or tiger bones. Trade in both was made illegal in 1993 with the country joining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), however, that hasn’t stopped many TCM practitioners and adherents from securing the illegal parts through the black market. In the past, Chinese zoos have beencaughtstarving tigers in order to make money byturning them into tiger bone wine.
Conservation groups said that while it is far from perfect, the loosening of the ban would only bolster black market sales and mean disaster for tiger and rhino populations in the wild. Meanwhile, it’s also important to note that no evidence has ever been presented about the medical benefits of either animal part.
“It is deeply concerning that China has reversed its 25-year-old tiger bone and rhino horn ban, allowing a trade that will have devastating consequences globally,” the World Wildlife Fund said at the time. “Even if restricted to antiques and use in hospitals, this trade would increase confusion by consumers and law enforcers as to which products are and are not legal, and would likely expand the markets for other tiger and rhino products.”
Evidently, protests like these have caused the Chinese government to back down for the time being. In a surprising announcement on Monday, the executive deputy secretary general of China’s State Council announced that the lifting of the ban would be postponed after evaluation. However, it’s not clear for how long.