A 25 year ban in China on tiger and rhinoceros parts has been lifted in an attempt to bolster the Chinese medicine industry. The activists believe this goes against the efforts made to protect endangered animals. A government directive makes it legal to use tiger and rhino bones for healing or medical research by certified physicians and hospitals. This decision corresponds to the campaign of President Xi Jinping to promote the Chinese medical sector including acupuncture and herbal medicines.
The conversationalists believe the decision may increase trade in the black market and encourage poaching. According to the Elephant Action League, the largest market in the world for illegal rhino horns is China. The estimate is only 3,900 tigers and 30,000 rhinos remain in the world. Tiger bones are used by some Chinese practitioners to boost male virility and relieve joint pain. Numerous scientific studies have not found any medicinal properties.
No reason was given by the State Council for lifting the ban. A spokesman for the foreign ministry stated the directive was a way of updating the incompatible regulations from 1993. He added the commitment made by China to protect endangered animals still remains. The industry for Chinese medicine earns over $120 billion yearly while employing 660,000 medical practitioners. For more details please visit https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-approves-use-of-rhino-tiger-parts-for-medical-treatment-and-research-1540904478.
Mr. Xi believes Chinese medicine is a cultural and scientific export for developing countries in Africa and Asia. He provided the World Health Organization with a statue in 2017 showing the acupuncture points to promote a worldwide acceptance of Chinese medicine. He visited the southern Guangdone province last week to urge the people to take the industry to the world. Some of the leading medical practitioners in China have been lobbying to loosen the restrictions for using endangered species for medical research.
Last year, the medicine regulator in China commissioned a study on ways to use endangered animals for medical use. The idea was to meet the basic pharmaceutical needs of the public by developing the endangered medicinal resources. It remains unknown if these studies led to the new directive of the State Council. The government has stated the trade in tiger and rhino parts is managed to ensure the protection of these animals.
Conservationists are confused by the decision because China has always supported the protection of wildlife. The Chinese government made a declaration two years ago they would ban all ivory trade by the close of 2017.