Conservationists Concerned After China Lifted Ban on the Rhino Horn and Tiger Bone Trade

It recently came to our attention that America isn’t the only nation turning its back on wildlife. We all know that rhinoceroses and tigers are stunning and magnificent creatures. We also know for a fact that the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) lists the Rhino population as vulnerable and the tiger population as endangered. So, it’s anyone’s guess why China would once again allow people to kill these animals for “medical research and healing.”


The ban against using rhino horns and tiger bones was a full 25 years old. Unfortunately, with the swipe of a pen, the Chinese government just put thousands of lives at risk. You see, now that trading these items is once again legal, poachers will no doubt consider it open season.

Image (Left) CC-BY SA 2.0 from Stephen Hanafin via Flickr Image (Right) CC BY-SA 2.0 from Gerry Zambonini via Flickr

You see, in China, some people believe that tiger bones and rhino horns contain healing properties. So, for the first time since 1993, the state council in China said these items could once again be used in “medical research or in healing.”


According to Chinese folklore, people believe that rhino horns treat a variety of conditions including typhoid, cancer, and poisoning. Studies show, though, that you are better off taking an aspirin or chewing your own nails. You see, keratin is the only real gain from a rhino horn and you have that right on the end of your fingers.

So, we aren’t just assuming the horn has no medical value, they have checked.

Image CC BY 2.0 from Ramnik Singh via Flickr

Insofar as tigers are concerned, their bones are considered powerful, and they are costly. Some people believe that if you consume parts of a tiger, you will take on their dominant characteristics. However, in the case of tigers, even Chinese medical practitioners have rejected the idea.

Image CC BY 2.0 from Caitlin Regan via Flickr

There really is no good reason to lift the ban and every reason not to.


Now, the Chinese government did stipulate that only certified hospitals and doctors can purchase the horns and the bones. In addition to that, they can only harvest them from rhinos and tigers raised in captivity — not zoo animals.

That doesn’t bring much comfort, though, to the people dedicated to protecting these wonderful animals.

Image (Left) CC BY 2.0 from Martin Pettitt via Flickr (Right) CC BY 2.0 from Qfelder via Flickr

Wild animals belong in the wild, not on some farm waiting to die.


Not to mention, for both tigers and rhinos, their population could use the help. Right now in the wild, there are only 3,900 tigers and less than 30,000 rhinos left — with a few like the black rhino going completely extinct.

One Green Planet spoke with Kate Nustedt, director of the Animals in the Wild program at World Animal Protection.

“Tigers and rhinos had some level of protection due to this ban, and now that it has been lifted, we fear for their future survival,” said Nustedt. “Tigers — and other wild animals — belong in the wild. There’s no excuse to farm any wild animal. They are born into a miserable life of suffering and then killed for use in medicinal products. It’s a total outrage.”

Image CC BY 2.0 from Becks via Flickr

Leigh Henry from the WWF spoke up, as well.

“It’s a devastating decision. I can’t overstate the potential impact.”

These days, now that we know better, it’s time that we do better. As Nustedt pointed out, there are synthetic versions of everything nowadays; it’s time to leave the animals out of it.

We found one petition from that you can sign to attempt to get China to change its mind, click here to sign it. Share with your friends to raise awareness.

Featured Image (Left) CC BY 2.0 from Martin Pettitt via Flickr (Right) CC BY 2.0 from Qfelder via Flickr

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