Beijing: The Chinese government has legalised the use of endangered tiger and rhino products for “medical” purposes, a move according to wildlife activists will be a setback to efforts to protect the increasingly endangered animals, the media reported Tuesday.
The directive reverses a 1993 ban put in place by Beijing on the international trade in tiger bones and rhino horns, both valued for their purported healing powers in Chinese traditional medicine, reports CNN.
In a statement Monday, China’s State Council said rhino and tiger parts could now be used “in medical research and healing”, as long as they came from farmed animals.
“Powdered forms of rhino horn and bones from dead tigers can only be used in qualified hospitals by qualified doctors recognised by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine,” the Council said.
It also warned that any illegal trade of rhino and tiger products would be subject to “severe crackdowns” and illegal products would be confiscated.
In 2010 the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies issued a statement saying there was no evidence for the claimed medical benefits of tiger bone.
Despite this, there is a still a lucrative trade in the body parts in China, where thousands of captive tigers are bred for ineffective traditional cures.
Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International, Tuesday said the announcement by Beijing was a “death warrant” for rhinos and tigers in the wild.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) called on Beijing to urgently reinstate the ban, saying in a statement it was “critical” to saving the species.
The decision by the Chinese government comes less than a year after it officially banned the trade of ivory.