China ends a 25-year-old ban and legalises controlled trade and use of rhino and tiger products

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A WWF report called The Living Planet Index shows us that populations of thousands of animal species are in danger. Who is the culprit? Well, one single species – humans. Yes, us! Our consumption patterns over the last 44 years have wiped out a large percentage of wildlife populations and their habitats.

On the same day that the WWF report came out, China reversed a 25-year-old trade ban and has legalised the sale and use of rhino horns and tiger bones.

Example of a rhino horn and traditional medicine containing rhino horn; Source : Zoo de Granby
Example of a rhino horn and traditional medicine containing rhino horn.

The Chinese believe that the rhino’s horn and tiger’s bones have amazing healing powers and use them in traditional medicine. The government has legalized trade of these items for medical purposes and scientific research only. Unfortunately, there are no proven medicinal benefits in humans from either product.

The Chinese government has clarified that bones and horns can only come from farmed animals and not from those found in the wild. Wildlife activists say it will be very hard to tell if they were acquired legally from farms or illegally from the wild.

China is estimated to have 6,500 tigers in farms (as of 2010) and the number of rhinos is unknown. Experts say the number of animals in farms will not meet the demand in China.

This new law will make it difficult to protect these endangered animals in the wild. It will entice traffickers to poach and hoard their animal body parts and sell them in the black market for a lot of money. The rhino horn has exceptional value. In 2012, a US-based company reported that a kilogram of Rhino horn sold for more than $60,000 making it more profitable than gold!

With fewer than 30,000 rhinos and 4,000 tigers left in the wild legalizing this trade will be an enormous setback to the conservation efforts.


Written By: Biyash Choksey

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