Did you know that there are tiger farms in China? Or that the 6,500-plus tigers there outnumber the 3,900 in the wild and that when the tigers are slaughtered their skin and bones are sold on the black market for superstition-based medicinal rites? Since 1993, when China banned the use of tiger (and rhino) parts for such purposes, the practice has been restricted to the illicit market, but the country has announced that it’s abandoning the ban and allowing legal sales of the parts. This, says World Wildlife, will have an “enormous” impact.
“China’s decision to reopen a legalized trade in farmed tiger bone and rhino horn reverses 25 years of conservation progress in reducing the demand for these products in traditional Chinese medicine and improving the effectiveness of law enforcement,” said Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy, WWF-US. “This devastating reversal by China runs completely counter to the image of wildlife champion the world had come to expect with China’s ivory trade ban, which was such a positive development for the world’s elephants.”
China is the world’s largest market for tiger and rhino parts, fueling much of the world’s poaching of the animals.
Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International said, “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.”
Photo by Blake Meyer on Unsplash