Captive tiger behind fence, China

China’s ‘legal trade’ announcement could sound the death knell for tigers and rhinos

The Government of China today (29 October) revealed that it allows commercial trade in tiger bone and rhino horn from farmed animals for use in traditional Chinese medicine research and clinical treatments.

This is a brazen and regressive move which drastically undermines international efforts for tiger and rhino conservation.

In making it, China has revealed its real hand – instead of protecting tigers and rhinos by working towards ending the vast demand in the country for their parts and products, the Government is evidently far more interested in stimulating and appeasing its traditional medicine and burgeoning tiger farming industries.

Debbie Banks, EIA Tiger Campaign Leader, said: “At a single stroke, China has shattered its reputation as a growing leader in conservation following its domestic ban on the sale of ivory at the start of the year.

“It is instead revealed as a sham, its international image in tatters and its credibility destroyed – and all for the sake of deeply questionable business sectors which serve only to drive consumer demand for the parts and products of endangered species.

“History will not judge the Government of China kindly or with respect for such a reactionary, ill-judged and damaging decision.”

While our investigations have documented permits issued by the Chinese Government which legalise trade in products sourced from captive tigers, the Government has done its best to keep this under wraps – either denying or ignoring information we’ve provided

In 2013, we exposed a “secret notification” issued by the Government in 2005, piloting the use of farmed tiger bone for medicinal purposes. Our exposé was met with denial but clearly the Government and medical industry have continued to conspire in the shadows to undermine decisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Banks added: “The huge number of tigers held or bred in captivity in China suggests there will be a major explosion in trade – and this can only lead to more tigers being poached in the wild.”

“The news today is a staggering display of brazen disregard for global opinion and seriously jeopardises the survival of wild tigers by stimulating demand for their body parts instead of eradicating demand. It runs completely contrary to everything other tiger range countries such as India, Nepal, Bhutan and Russia are trying to do.”