China lifts ban on rhino and tiger 'remedies'

Customs officers stand next to seized shipment of rhino horns shipment during a news conference in Hong Kong

Customs officers stand next to seized shipment of rhino horns shipment during a news conference in Hong Kong

"Powdered forms of rhino horn and bones from dead tigers can only be used in qualified hospitals by qualified doctors recognized by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine", the statement said.

Humane Society International also criticized China's move, saying that "the trade it engenders will inevitably increase pressure on animals in the wild".

Ivory tusks, rhino horns and leopard skins seized by Hong Kong customs officials displayed during a press conference in 2013.

Animal conservationists are alarmed over China's decision to partially reverse a ban on the trade of tiger bones and rhino horn.

"All illegal trade in rhinos, tigers and their related products will be subject to severe crackdowns, and the approved activities will receive close monitoring", the council added.

Those include scientific research, sales of cultural relics, and "medical research or in healing".

Commercial tiger farms in China are legal, and although using tiger bones in medicine was banned, tiger parts from these farms often end up being made into tonics or other medicines, animal rights groups say.

The EIA called the overturning of the ban a "brazen and regressive move which drastically undermines global efforts for tiger and rhino conservation".

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Operators are also believed to be investigating the possibility of farming rhinos in the country, although, unlike tigers, those are not native to China.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) heavily criticised the new law in a press release, expressing "profound concern" over the changes.

China has unveiled rules that will allow the use of rhino horn and tiger parts for some medical and cultural purposes, watering down a decades-old ban in a move conservation group WWF said could have "devastating consequences".

WWF called on China to maintain the bans on trade in tiger bone and rhino horn, and contended that the ban should be expanded to cover trade in all tiger parts and products.

Trade volume will be "strictly controlled", the State Council said, with any trade outside of authorised use cases to remain banned. Other illegal wildlife products, such as pangolin scales, continue to see demand for their supposed medicinal properties.

In that year, both tiger bone and rhino horn were removed from the traditional Chinese medicine pharmacopoeia.

"With wild tiger and rhino populations at such low levels and facing numerous threats, legalised trade in their parts is simply too great a gamble for China to take", Kinnaird said.

The country's ban on ivory sales went into effect in December 2017 - an attempt to rein in what used to be the product's largest market in the world.

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