Panthera Condemns China’s Reversal of Ban on Use of Tiger and Rhinoceros Parts in Medicine
Editor's Note: Weeks after reversing a 25-year ban on the use of tiger and rhino parts in medicine, China has temporarily reinstated this ban. Panthera's Dr. John Goodrich shared, "We enthusiastically applaud the Chinese government for their decision to temporarily reinstate the country’s ban on the use of tiger and rhino parts in medicine – a practice that has long been known as a hidden in plain sight thoroughfare for the illegal wildlife trade. This is a tremendously encouraging step in the right direction and we strongly advocate for China to make the decision to prioritize the survival of the tiger, rhino and other precious wildlife species permanent.”
New York, NY - After a 25-year ban, the government of China has announced the unexpected and alarming decision to legalize the use of tiger and rhinoceros parts for medicinal purposes, including medical research and healing.
Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, unequivocally condemns the decision as catastrophic for the survival of the endangered tiger, whose numbers hover at just 3,900, and other wild cats, and calls on the government of China to restore its ban on the use of tiger and rhinoceros parts in medicine.
Panthera Chief Scientist and Tiger Program Senior Director, Dr. John Goodrich, stated, “There is absolutely zero scientific evidence that parts from tigers, lions, rhinos and other threatened species contain healing powers that can benefit human health. Instead, the legal trade in wildlife parts has proven lethal for some of our planet’s most imperiled and precious species, fueling demand from the black market and the slaughter of animal populations in the wild.”
Dr. Goodrich continued, “In reversing this ban, China has helped to legalize the execution and extinction of the magnificent tiger.”
The legal trade of endangered species has long been considered a conduit for the illegal wildlife trade, with strong ties demonstrated between captive tiger breeding facilities in Southeast Asia and the illegal trade of tiger parts, including Thailand’s famed Tiger Temple. A 2016 TRAFFIC report analyzing tiger seizures from 2000-2015 found that an estimated minimum 17% or 297 tigers confiscated from illegal trafficking operations originated from captive facilities.
Making this week’s decision particularly incomprehensible, China has recently taken impressive steps to polish its environmental image and made commitments applauded by the international community, including a ban on the nation’s ivory trade, establishment of a vast reserve for Amur tigers and leopards, and new measures to tackle climate change and air pollution.
Said Goodrich, “We implore China to restore the ban on tiger and rhino parts for medicinal use and indeed increase its measures to protect invaluable and irreplaceable wildlife.”
Panthera’s Tigers Forever program operates in six tiger range states to mitigate the most pressing threats facing the species, with a focus on training and outfitting law enforcement patrols, utilizing informant networks, and monitoring tigers and their prey to disrupt illegal wildlife trafficking and combat poaching syndicates.