Ban in limbo: China has answered to protests and calls all over the globe by going back to the drawing board to decide where the fate of an old ban lays.
China is in the process of rethinking their decision to legalize the use of tiger bone and rhino horn for medical purposes. Twenty-five years ago, China put a ban into place to stop the import and export of wild animal products. Apprehension and commotion were results after China declared they lifted this ban. Attending to the uproar, China, as of Monday November 12, is delaying the implementation of this ban.
The Chinese government announced this past October 29th that rhinoceros horns and tiger bones are legal to be used for medical purposes. As of then, in China, rhinos and tigers that have been incarcerated were available for their parts to be used by certified hospitals. Out of the blue China announced the reversal of this ban, instigating major concern for our world’s wildlife.
So why did China reverse this ban? According to TIME Magazine, “China’s State Council said the ban, enacted in 1993, would be partially lifted to allow tiger and rhino parts to be used for medicine, scientific research and “cultural exchanges,” underscoring that the trade will be strictly controlled and the products must come from animals in captivity”. In China there are around 6,500 tigers in captivity and an unknown number of rhinos. Tiger bones and rhino horns are both held at high value. Advocates for the protection of wild animals say that since recognizing a farmed animal from a wild animal is practically impossible, a large market for poaching will arise. Margaret Kinnaird of the World Wildlife Fund stated that “not only could this (ban being lifted) lead to the risk of legal trade providing cover to illegal trade, this policy will also stimulate demand that had otherwise declined since the ban was put in place”.
China going back on its ban is a massive blow to the conservation of the magnificent creatures. Fewer than 30,000 rhinoceroses and 3,900 tigers are left in the wild and the numbers continue to plunge. Over 7,200 African Rhinos have been murdered in the past decade, according to Save The Rhino. Since the 1900s, more than 100,000 tigers have been slaughtered by poachers. Out of the nine subspecies of tigers, only six remain, which is appalling and frankly heartbreaking.
For over one thousand years, traditional Chinese medicine, which is based on herbal and natural antidotes, has used animal parts which are most commonly ground up into powder. “Once they’re stripped of flesh, the bones are ground into powder, then used in pills, plasters, and as part of remedies containing other ingredients. A standard oral dosage for rheumatic pain is three to six grams a day. Over a year, that’s somewhere between six and a half and 13 pounds of bone” according to Sharon Guynup who has written series’ on tigers for National Geographic.
However, neither tiger bones nor rhinoceros horns have scientific evidence to prove that they are actual remedies. “Rhino horn, which is made of the same protein found in human hair and fingernails, is promoted as a purported cancer cure general health tonic, and hangover cure in Vietnam, while crushed tiger bone has been said to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatism and back pain with no scientific evidence to back up claims” according to WildAid.
While it may be believed that the use of animal products cure ailments, there is no research that actually confirms its healing abilities. China needs to permanently renounce the legalization of wild animal parts before unalterable damage is done to the population of rhinos, and especially tigers.