On October 29, 2018, The China State Council issued a notice on the strict control of the operation and utilization of rhinoceros and tigers and their products, and simultaneously abolished the former rhino horn and tiger bone trade ban issued in 1993.
The new notice allows the sale, purchase, use, import, and export of rhinoceros and tigers and their products under certain conditions prescribed by law, whereas in the 1993 notice, the above acts were banned entirely.
The issue in focus is the authorization for obtaining products for medicinal use from artificially bred or naturally dead rhinoceros and tigers. Many worry the new regulation may be abused.
Environmental protection organizations are stunned by the re-opening of the rhinoceros and tiger products market after 25 years of prohibition. While we mourn the loss of the trade ban, let us also examine the example of China’s domestic ivory trade. Since 1981, the Chinese ivory market has opened and closed several times until the latest trade ban in December 2017. Moreover, the period of rampant poaching and rising illegal trade coincided with China’s second opening of the domestic ivory market. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, stated in its reports that the existence of a legal ivory market leaves some space for the illegal market, raising the demand for ivory and the number of poached African elephants.
With the painful lessons of ivory, we must also pay enough attention to the rhinoceros and tiger market opening, because this may once again lead to an increase in incidences of illegal poaching. At present, the number of wild tigers in the world is only over 3,900, and the number of wild rhinoceros is around 30,000, so protection work is needed urgently.
Animal Dialogue believes that only by strengthening supervision and making standard requirements for various industries can we prevent the influx of unlawful rhinoceros and tiger products. We propose some suggestions for relevant departments and enterprises listed below:
- The government should strengthen the enforcement of the ban by departments such as the customs, public security, and internet supervision.
- The authorities ought to release a list of hospitals and physicians who are permitted to utilize rhinoceros and tiger bones in medicine and create clear product labels to inform the public better.
- The administrative agencies should establish records of an inventory of products and carry out statistical work on the number of rhinoceros and tigers in zoos, farms, scientific research bases, and so on. They should also audit the inventory and quantity regularly.
- Internet businesses should improve the management of websites and e-commerce platforms, delete illegal information about rhinoceros and tiger products from the platform promptly, and actively cooperate with authorities to investigate suspected crimes.
- We urge the e-commerce industry to train delivery practitioners to identify rhinoceros horns and tiger bones so they may refuse to deliver suspected rhinoceros and tiger products.
- In the process of artificial breeding of rhinoceros and tigers, the farming industry should ensure both the physical and mental welfare of these animals.
Wild animals always belong in nature, and we and all those who love wild animals will continue to pay attention to the protection of wild rhinoceros and tigers as well as illegal market trade.
On November 12th, China announced it is postponing the lifting of the 1993 ban on rhino horns and tiger bones, after a massive wave of criticism from international conservation groups. The relevant plans have been called off, and the old ban is still in place. China’s stance on wildlife conservation remains unchanged. It will continue to enforce the “three strict bans”: “strictly ban the import and export of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts; strictly ban the sale, purchase, transport, carrying, and mailing of rhinos, tigers, and their byproducts; and strictly ban the use of rhino horns and tiger bones in medicine,” said State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong.
Translated by Andrea Jia
Edited by Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue