WASHINGTON—In the wake of media reports that China will delay issuance of regulations that would allow a limited domestic trade in tiger bone and rhino horn, Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States call for permanent reinstatement of a complete ban. China announced last month that it had rescinded the complete ban, which had been in place for 25 years. The move was met with global dismay.
Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International, says, "If China were to reinstate the ban on domestic trade in tiger parts and rhino horns, this would provide a vital lifeline for these species. But we know that the devil is often in the detail. China has formally revoked its 25-year-old ban on the domestic trade in tiger parts and rhino horns, and recent statements made to Chinese state media do not undo that regrettable policy and its impact on these iconic and imperiled species. To truly protect tigers and rhinos we need an official written proclamation from the State Council that permanently reinstates a complete ban. Full stop. Species extinction is irreversible and we cannot afford any missteps."
In response to China’s action, HSI, HSUS, and other animal protection organizations filed today a legal petition (PDF) with the U.S. government seeking a ban on U.S. imports of all wildlife and their parts from China unless or until China formally reinstates a complete ban on domestic trade in tigers and rhinos and their parts and products.
For years, China has been criticised for tolerating tiger farms, which breed thousands of captive tigers so that their bones and other body parts can be sold for tiger bone wine and medicinal products. Such trade perpetuates cruelty while fuelling demand for body parts from illegally poached wild tigers, of which there may be as few as 3,500. Rhino farms in China and other countries would also profit from the rescindment of the domestic trade ban. Anti-smuggling investigations and market research have shown a persistent demand for rhino horn and tiger bones in China, which is driving these animals to extinction in the wild.
In October, China announced that it had rescinded the domestic trade ban that has been in place for 25 years, allowing trade in tiger bone and rhino horn from captive or farmed animals. HSI responded saying that the Chinese government had signed a death warrant for imperilled rhinos and tigers in the wild because illegal tiger bone and rhino horn could all too easily enter the marketplace and further perpetuate the demand for these animal parts.