WASHINGTON – Wildlife campaigners at Humane Society International have expressed their dismay at the news that China is reversing its 25-year old ban on domestic trade in tiger bone and rhino horn. The issuance of a new regulation, announced today by the Chinese State Council, means that it will once again be legal to sell tiger bone and rhino horn domestically.
For years, China has been criticised internationally for tolerating tiger farms which breed thousands of captive tigers so that their bones and other body parts can be sold for tiger bone wine and medicinal products. Such trade perpetuates cruelty while fueling demand for body parts from illegally poached wild tigers, of which there may be as few as 3,500. Anti-smuggling investigations and market research have shown a persistent demand for rhino horns in China. The new regulations would allow the use of tiger bone and rhino horn from captive or farmed animals, but the trade it engenders will inevitably increase pressure on animals in the wild.
Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International says, “With this announcement, the Chinese government has signed a death warrant for imperilled rhinos and tigers in the wild who already face myriad threats to their survival. It sets up what is essentially a laundering scheme for illegal tiger bone and rhino horn to enter the marketplace and further perpetuate the demand for these animal parts. This is a devastating blow to our ongoing work to save species from cruel exploitation and extinction, and we implore the Chinese government to reconsider.”
In 2010 the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies publicly urged its members against using such products. The announcement is at odds with China’s move last year to close its domestic elephant ivory market.
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