China has reversed a controversial decision to allow the use of endangered tiger and rhino products for “medical” purposes, major news outlets are reporting.
CNN reports that a senior Chinese official had confirmed that “three strict bans” would temporarily remain in place on the import, export and sale of rhinos, tigers and their by-products.
“I would like to reiterate that the Chinese government has not changed its stance on wildlife protection and will not ease the crackdown on illegal trafficking and trade of rhinos, tigers and their by-products and other criminal activities,” State Council spokesman Ding Xuedong told the Xinhua news agency.
He said a previous circular issued by the State Council permitting the use of rhino and tiger parts by certified Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, “has been postponed after study.”
“Relevant departments of the Chinese government will soon continue to organize special crackdown campaigns with focus on addressing the illegal trade of rhinos, tigers and their by-products,” Xuedong’s added. “Illegal acts will be dealt with severely.”
The spokesman’s comments would seem to be in response to a major global outcry around China’s plans to legalize the use of rhino and tiger products. Wildlife activists said the move by China would be a devastating blow to efforts to protect rhinos and tigers which are under increasing threat in the wild.
“We are relieved and pleased that sanity has prevailed,” said David Barritt, a spokesman for the Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby). “It is sobering to consider that there are less than 4 000 wild tigers left in the world today. We simply cannot risk losing them to poachers and wildlife traffickers.”
Barritt highlighted the dire situation in South Africa, which is home to most of the rhinos that remain on the planet.
“South Africa is engaged in a war on rhino poaching. If China were to allow the free trade of rhino products, that war would rapidly be lost.”
- Photographs circulated on social media have highlighted the horror behind “tiger bone wine.” They show thousands of tigers – one of the most powerful animals in the world and a global icon of freedom and wilderness – languishing in concrete pens in China. The animals are reared to be killed for their bones which are used in a traditional Asian medicine called “tiger bone wine.”
Tiger bone wine is used for the treatment of bone or joint-related ailments such as arthritis. The bones are boiled down until they form a glue-like substance, which is then dried in cake-like blocks from which shavings are mixed with wine and consumed.