The Chinese government has lifted a 25-year-old ban on the trade of rhino horns and tiger bones.
On October 29, China rescinded the ban, saying the parts from endangered animals will now be authorized for cultural, medical and scientific purposes, the BBC reported. However, animal lovers, as well as environmental experts, are concerned the legislation will increase demand for animals in danger of extinction.
According to an official statement made by the State Council, “qualified hospitals and qualified doctors” will use powdered forms of tiger bones and rhino horns obtained only from farms. In addition, certain parts classified as “antiques” could also be used in cultural exchanges, but only with official approval.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) responded by saying the move will be a huge setback to the protection of wildlife, and the trade will cause confusion among stakeholders whilst expanding markets for other rhino and tiger parts.
Rhino and tiger parts hold a significant place in oriental culture, particularly in China and Vietnam, with the latter being the most common destination for illegal poached animal parts. According to the Los Angeles Times, Vietnam has been constantly slammed by NGOs for their lack of efforts in combating the illegal trade.