Late last month, the Chinese government announced that it had lifted the ban on the use of rhinoceros horns and tiger bones for medical research or traditional medicine. However, according to the Xinhua news network, the Asian country has postponed the measure in response to the international protest.
The Deputy Secretary General of the State Council, Ding Xuedong, did not explain how long the ban would continue, only saying that the “three strict prohibitions” will continue to apply: strictly prohibiting the import and export of rhinos, tigers and their derivatives; strictly prohibit the sale, purchase, transportation, and shipment of rhinos, tigers, and their derivatives; and strictly prohibit the use of rhino horns and tiger bones in medicine. “
For its part, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has responded with satisfaction. “Allowing trade even of captive animals could have had devastating impacts on populations of rhinos and wild tigers. This movement helps maintain the leadership role that China has taken to combat illegal wildlife trade and reduce market demand, “they said.
A criticized measure
As you remember, the lifting of the ban by the Chinese government was met with much criticism. “WWF urgently calls on China to maintain the trade ban on tiger bones and rhinoceros horns, which has been so critical in the conservation of these iconic species.” This should be extended to encompass trade in all parts and products. of the tiger, ” said Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy at the WWF.
The action of China contrasted with the movements of the country to combat poaching in recent years. The country had implemented a 25-year ban that prevents the import or export of these products. In addition, the World Federation of Societies of Chinese Medicine, the official group that dictates what can be used in traditional medicine, had also eliminated rhinoceros horn and tiger bone from its list of approved products.
History of prohibitions
The 1993 ban significantly slowed the demand for parts of tigers and rhinos, which has long been considered the world’s largest consumer market for such products. Over the years, China has taken important steps to implement and enforce this prohibition through public education campaigns, the promotion of effective substitutes for medicines for tigers and rhinos, and the strengthening of law enforcement.
Two years ago, the Asian country also announced that it would close its national ivory market by the end of 2017, a move that conservationists said was a necessary step to help reduce the demand for ivory and crush the poaching of African elephants.
The rhino horn is made of keratin, a protein found in the nails and hair, and it is falsely said that the product helps treat everything from cancer to gout when it is consumed in the form of powder. But there are no proven medicinal benefits in humans of any of the products.
The scarce evidence has been presented to affirm that the rhinoceros horn can somehow help to lower the fever, at least in rodents. “Certainly, the cheapest, most readily available medications, such as paracetamol or aspirin, are much more effective,” says Susan Lieberman, vice president of international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society.