Published: Thu, November 01, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

China allows rhino horn, tiger bone to be traded in 'special cases'

China allows rhino horn, tiger bone to be traded in 'special cases'

China banned all use and trading of tiger bone and rhino horn in 1993, after it joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, an international agreement among governments of more than 170 countries.

This allows rhino horn and the bones of tigers bred in captivity to be used "for medical research or clinical treatment of critical illnesses".

Monday's controversial move lifted restrictions put in place by China in 1993 as part of a global push to protect the world's endangered wildlife species from extinction.

The regulations said that trade of rhinos, tigers and their related products was illegal, except for a handful of purposes, including medicine, scientific research and "cultural exchanges".

"It was used in ancient times, but now we have alternative products", he said.

Rhino horns and tiger bones are valued by some practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and prescribed to treat a range of ailments, including fever, gout, rheumatism and back pain.

"It is deeply concerning that China has reversed its 25-year-old tiger bone and rhino horn ban‚ allowing a trade that will have devastating consequences globally‚" said Margaret Kinnaird‚ WWF wildlife practice leader.

"The resumption of a legal market for these products is an enormous setback to efforts to protect tigers and rhinos in the wild".

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"China's experience with the domestic ivory trade has clearly shown the difficulties of trying to control parallel legal and illegal markets for ivory", she said.

Conservation groups say they were stunned by China's reversal, given President Xi Jinping's heartening position on curbing climate change and banning ivory sales previous year.

Up to 6,000 captive tigers, meanwhile, are estimated to be in held in about 200 government-sanctioned farms across China.

Tiger populations have started to recover after years of aggressive hunting, but their numbers are still drastically low: less than 4,000 are believed to exist in the wild today.

Meanwhile, the number of rhinos is now around 30,000 in the wild across all five species, among these 3 have been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, they may not be sold on the market or traded on the internet.

In 2016, China, along with the United States, announced that it would ban the sale of ivory.

US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli (L) and Chinese State Forestry Administration Minister Zhao Shucong (2nd L) look at a rhino horn during a press preview of confiscated wildlife contraband prior to an event on wildlife trafficking June 24, 2015.

"With this announcement, the Chinese government has signed a death warrant for imperilled rhinos and tigers in the wild who already face myriad threats to their survival", Iris Ho, the group's senior specialist for wildlife program and policy, was quoted as saying in a statement.

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