Back in 1993, China banned all use and trading of rhino horn and tiger bone, through an agreement made between more than 170 countries’ governments in efforts to protect and conserve endangered species such as these. However, the other day, Chinese government announced that this 25-year-long ban has been lifted.
Now, the use and trade of rhino horns and tiger bones is permitted, under few restrictions, in one of the most populated countries in the world. The reason specified for the reversal of the ban is so that China may use these animal parts for scientific and medicinal purposes. Though there has never been any proof of any medicinal value of these materials to humans.
The lift of the ban is alarming conservationists around the world. According to National Geographic, this surprising move may “open the floodgates for a surge in illegal activity” and consequently threaten even more vulnerable wildlife populations.
With increasing acts of poaching on rhinos for their horns, the rhino population is at an exceedingly low level. They already face many threats to their survival and adding legalized trade which influences further poaching gives their chance at existence for future generations very little hope.
The World Wildlife Fund urges China to maintain the ban on rhino horn and tiger bone, as they have been so vigilant in protecting these iconic species. WWF’s wildlife practice leader, Margaret Kinnaird, expressed concern that the allowance of a legal market for these products entails an excessive setback to the very conservation efforts they strive for.
It seems this decision is counterintuitive to previous approaches of Chinese leadership. With their past efforts in minimizing illegal wildlife trade and the closure of their ivory market for elephant conservation, it begs the question as to why they would counteract a completely adequate ban in the first place, especially now.
Only time will tell, but unfortunately, these beautiful creatures are running out of it.