Amid protests from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Chinese Government decided to undo a ban on the trade in rhinoceros horns and tiger bones as part of its culture of traditional Chinese medicines. Twenty-five years ago 170 countries from around the world including China signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The demand for such elements derived from endangered wildlife in the world for use in traditional Chinese medicine was thought to a major source of pressure on dwindling populations of rhinoceros and tiger apart from trophy seekers. So, it comes as a bit of a blow to this effort after all this time when populations of these animals have been impacted by factors ranging from habitat loss due to human encroachment to outright extermination by those who have attempted to hunt them down for profit.
The Chinese Government, however, has urged the world to reconsider its position saying that there is a move to acquire these materials from endangered species through more sustainable means. In terms of the rhino horn, these would be taken from rhinos that were bred in captivity, while the bones of tigers would be taken from those that have died naturally. Spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, said, “We noticed that the former regulations did not take into full consideration the scientific research, education, law enforcement and other aspects.”
From the side of all those on the opposite side of this argument, animal conservationists and environmentalists, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader, Margaret Kinnaird, summed up the sentiment by saying, “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.”