China Postpones New Tiger Bone and Rhino Horn Trade Law
China has postponed implementing new regulation that would have allowed the use of tiger bone and rhino horn by hospitals and domestic trade in antique tiger and rhino products.
The news has been welcomed by WWF. Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader said: “Allowing trade from even captive animals could have had devastating impacts on wild rhino and tiger populations. This move helps maintain the leadership role China has taken in tackling the illegal wildlife trade and reducing market demand. With wild tiger and rhino populations at such low levels and facing numerous threats, extra caution and careful consideration should be given when considering relaxing any ban on trade in tiger and rhino parts.”
UN Environment said last week that it considers the renegotiation of existing bans on trade in rhino and tiger parts – for any reason – an extremely alarming development that threatens decades of hard work to implement laws and regulations to protect these critically endangered animals. “For years, scientists, policymakers and environmental activists have been moving to close traffic loopholes, minimize the market and halt poaching. Reconsidering these hard-fought laws and regulations on the trade in endangered wildlife products opens the door for countries to value economic gains over environmental protection under the guise of 'regulated' trade,” said the organization in a statement.
“To allow rhino horn and tiger bones to re-enter the market also falsely indicates that these products have medical value. We don’t know the impact this will have on stimulating demand. Experience shows how difficult it is to curb a black market for these products when a legal market also exists.”
China banned trade in tiger bone and rhino horn in 1993. The Chinese government has also undertaken considerable efforts to recover its tiger population in the Northeast region of the country by recently establishing the Tiger and Leopard National Park, 1.6 times larger than Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.
During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit held in China in September 2018, China and African states issued the Beijing Action Plan, pledging to jointly fight the smuggling of endangered species and their products. Fulfilling these commitments would help to boost China's image internationally and strengthen collaboration with rhino and tiger range countries in Africa and Asia in the context of China's Belt & Road Initiative, says WWF.
State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong said: “For many years, the Chinese government has been cracking down hard on criminal activities such as the illegal trafficking and trade of rhino horns and tiger bones, has been active in advancing international exchanges and cooperation, and has made substantial advances in the cause of wildlife protection. The Chinese government has been consistent and firm in its stance on wildlife protection. I would like to reiterate that the Chinese government has not changed its stance on wildlife protection and will not ease the crackdown on illegal trafficking and trade of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts and other criminal activities.”