China is reconsidering allowing the trade of tiger bones and rhino horns, CTV is reporting. In October, it was announced that trade would be allowed under “special circumstances.” This caused controversy from animal rights groups, especially since China is already one of the top markets for the sale of products coming from endangered wildlife, such as ivory and skin from elephants and meat and scales from pangolin.
China has also had a history of farming tigers and selling their parts. When the new policy on trading was enacted, many theorized that China would now begin to allow the farming of other animals, such as rhinos. After further review, China is reflecting on whether allowing the sale of tiger bones and rhino horns will encourage illegal poaching and smuggling. Many activists fear that allowing trade legally under any circumstances will aid poachers in hiding behind legalities to continue their activity. According to the Xinhua News Agency, cabinet official Ding Xuedong said on Monday, November 12 that the law allowing the trade has “been postponed after study.”
“Relevant departments of the Chinese government will soon continue to organize special crackdown campaigns with focus on addressing the illegal trade of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts,” said Xuedong. “Illegal acts will be dealt with severely.”
China will also be continuing to ban the practice of importing and exporting rhino and tiger parts to use in traditional Chinese medicine. The Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States believe the trade of endangered species should not only be disallowed under “special circumstances” but ever for that matter.
“To truly protect tigers and rhinos we need an official written proclamation from the State Council that permanently reinstates a complete ban. Full stop,” said Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International. “Species extinction is irreversible and we cannot afford any missteps.”
The organizations are taking it one step further by taking legal action. Both groups have filed an appeal for a ban on U.S. imports of all wildlife and their parts from China “unless or until China formally reinstates a complete ban on domestic trade in tigers and rhinos and their parts and products.” The World Wildlife Fund feels the same way and believes that not banning trade entirely will have “devastating consequences globally.”
According to a report presented at the Third Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in 2016, only 3,890 tigers remain alive in the wild. Wild rhinos are now at less than 30,000, and that number is decreasing rapidly as poachers continue to collect their horns.