Appeal: Protect Threatened Species

Help us stop firms investing in extinction

Pharmaceutical firms using threatened species


We have found that a number of big pharmaceutical companies in the traditional Chinese medicine industry are selling products containing leopard bone and pangolin scales.

Over the course of two years, we discovered 88 traditional Chinese medicine products containing leopard and pangolin on sale online. Astonishingly, we also found products that contained tiger and rhino horn, despite claims from the Chinese Government that this is prohibited.


Finding these products officially on the manufacturers’ websites was quite startling. We were under the impression that the Chinese Government’s policies didn’t allow this.

Debbie Banks, EIA Tiger and Wildlife Crime Campaign Lead

Animals at risk



Leopards are vulnerable to extinction. Asian leopards have disappeared from 85 per cent of their range.

A young pangolin


Pangolin populations are in decline globally.



Tigers are now extinct in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and are perilously close to extinction in China.



Rhinos are being poached almost to extinction, largely for their horns.

Famous names profiting from extinction

Panoramic aerial view of London

Our research also revealed 62 international investors with shares in these traditional Chinese medicine manufacturers.

These investors are banks, insurance companies, pension funds and asset managers based in Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

Many are Fortune 500 companies and household names. They include AXA, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Legal & General, Prudential, Royal Bank of Canada, and Goldman Sachs.

Pressure for change

©Kristoffer Trolle via Wikimedia Commons

It’s extremely disappointing to think that well-known financial organisations are profiting from the use of threatened species.

With your help, we’re putting pressure on these companies to stop funding extinction. If enough investors turn their backs on pharmaceutical companies that use threatened wildlife, it could persuade manufacturers to switch to sustainable plant-based alternatives.

Most traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t include wildlife, and the products we found account for just a small proportion of the overall output of these companies. A shift in priorities could make a massive difference to the future survival of leopards, pangolins, tigers and rhinos.

Norway leads the way

If investors are thinking of moving funds out of big pharma in China, they can look to Norway as an example. In September 2021, Norges Bank – the central bank of the Norwegian Government – excluded four traditional Chinese medicine firms from the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global because they were using threatened wildlife.

The reason? There was an “unacceptable risk that companies contribute to serious environmental damage”.

Two EIA reports – ‘A Bitter Pill to Swallow’ and ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ – were instrumental in alerting the Norwegian Government to the potential risks of investing in traditional Chinese medicine companies.

Norway has set a trailblazing precedent. We hope that other countries will follow their lead.

Help us save endangered species

Thanks to your support, we have uncovered the Chinese pharmaceutical companies that are flouting international law and the firms that are investing in extinction.

If you are able to make a donation today, your gift could help turn the tide on the use of threatened species in traditional Chinese medicine.

By donating today, you could help us to:

  • Put pressure on banks and financial institutions to stop investing in Chinese pharmaceutical companies that use threatened species.
  • Campaign for the Chinese Government to prohibit the use of leopards, pangolins, tigers and rhinos for all commercial purposes.
  • Amplify the voices of those within the traditional Chinese medicine industry who are calling for change.
  • Fight the illegal trade in leopards and pangolins, as well as other threatened species, such as elephants, tigers and rhinos.


Please donate today to help us protect endangered wildlife and preserve threatened ecosystems and habitats. On behalf of everyone at EIA, thank you.

Avinash Basker, EIA Legal & Policy Specialist