A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers

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Nov 11, 2018

Update: Following a Wave of Protests, China Postpones Lifting the Ban on the Use of Tiger and Rhino Parts

The use of rhino horn and tiger bone for medicinal uses was to be permitted again, which would have had a large impact on tiger and rhino endangerment.


Brooke Hess


Since this article was published, China has postponed the ban being lifted. This decision has come in the face of international outcry, and in a statement China has said that they are “dedicated to the cause of wildlife protection”.

State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong, did not explain for how long the ban would continue, but that the “three strict bans” will continue to be enforced: 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.

The WWF has responded, explaining that they “welcome the news that China has postponed lifting its ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn and tiger bone, signalling a positive response to international reaction. 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.”


“All five of the world’s diverse species of rhinoceros have been brought to the edge of extinction because of human appetite for their distinctive horns” says PBS Nature.

On October 29th, China released a statement allowing the trade of tiger and rhino products. According to Leigh Henry, the wildlife policy director at the World Wildlife Fund, “This new regulation replaces the outright ban on tiger bone and rhino horn trade which has been in place since 1993.”

Mother and young rhinoceros killed for their horns. Taken at private game farm in Gauteng, South Africa. Photo: Hein waschefort

The ban was originally put into place as a way to mitigate the rhino and tiger poaching crisis, which was contributing to the endangered status of both animals. With fewer than 30,000 rhinos and 3,900 tigers left in the wild, the possibility of those species going extinct is unfortunately, extremely high. According to Dr Jo Shaw, A Programme Officer with TRAFFIC, “A decade ago the first signs were on the horizon of the forthcoming rhino poaching crisis, but few then could have foreseen the magnitude and ramifications of what we face today. However, with the surging demand from Asia, people willing to pay high prices to get their hands on rhino horn, and little fear of capture by those smuggling horn, it was perhaps inevitable that this ‘commodity’ would catch the attention of the hardened criminal fraternity, creating a ‘perfect storm’ for rhino poaching and horn trade.”

“taken daily to keep illness at bay and restore vital energy rather than to treat specific symptoms”

Tiger bone and rhino horn have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as healing agents for the past 3,000 years. Tigers and rhinos are thought to have strong energy, which if used medicinally, will give strength and energy to the person receiving the medicine. According to Dr. Rebecca Drury of Flora and Fauna International, “In order to understand consumption of many traditional tonics, one also needs to understand more about Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine. For example, these tend to be taken daily to keep illness at bay and restore vital energy rather than to treat specific symptoms, and wild-derived animals are considered to have stronger vital energy.”

Despite tiger and rhino bone being used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the past 3,000 years, scientists today say there is no actual proven healing benefit from the products. PBS Nature says, “Overall there isn’t much evidence to support the plethora of claims about the healing properties of the (rhino) horns. In 1990, researchers at Chinese University in Hong Kong found that large doses of rhino horn extract could slightly lower fever in rats (as could extracts from Saiga antelope and water buffalo horn), but the concentration of horn given by a traditional Chinese medicine specialist are many many times lower than used in those experiments. In short, says Amin, you’d do just as well chewing on your fingernails.”

According to Leigh Henry with the World Wildlife Fund, “Tiger bone and rhino horn were removed from the official pharmacopoeia of Traditional Chinese Medicine after the 1993 ban on trade in these products was put in place. In 2010, the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies released a statement urging members not to use tiger bone or any other parts from endangered species.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, originating more than 3,000 years ago, includes an emphasis on the importance of being in balance with nature, as this balance contributes to our health and well-being. It is in this spirit that many TCM practitioners no longer endorse the use of rhino horn or tiger parts.

Rhino horn in packaging horns, seized by UK Border Agency. Photo: UK Home Office

Despite the lack of scientifically-proven medical benefits, tiger bone and rhino horns are still highly valued around the world. TRAFFIC reports “at least 65 rhino horns have been stolen from public display within South Africa with similar thefts carried out in the US and in Europe.”

6,500 tigers live in China’s tiger farms, far outnumbering the roughly 3,900 remaining in the wild.

In a statement released by the World Wildlife Fund, “The new regulations say hospitals can obtain parts from captive facilities within China—excluding zoos—where tigers and rhinos are bred for commercial purposes. Experts estimate that more than 6,500 tigers live in China’s tiger farms, far outnumbering the roughly 3,900 remaining in the wild.

These “tiger farms” that the WWF refers to are legal farms in China that raise tigers for legal commercial sale of their skins. “The trade in tiger and rhino parts and products was prohibited in China. However, there was an exemption for tiger skins and their products obtained from legal sources, including from captive breeding, if permitted by the government, legally registered and accompanied by a certificate.” These legal farms are now permitted to sell and trade tiger bones as well as skins.

“this move risks causing confusion among consumers as to what products are legal or illegal”

The World Wildlife Fund is worried that China’s declaration allowing the use of tiger bone and rhino horn will spur a rise in poaching. “It is WWF’s position that the movement of tiger products from tiger farms into the marketplace (through legal or illegal channels) negatively impacts enforcement efforts directed against those who trade in tigers poached from the wild. This is of great concern given that poaching remains the greatest threat to conservation of the species at this time. The same concern exists regarding rhino horn trade and impact on conservation of rhinos in the wild. Equally, this move risks causing confusion among consumers as to what products are legal or illegal and could expand the markets/demand for these products, which have thus far been in slow decline thanks, in large part, to the 1993 ban.”

The World Wildlife Fund is clear on their stance with this issue. “The unfortunate reality is that tiger farms in China have been growing in size for some time now, posing an increasing threat to tigers in the wild. This decision is a move in the opposite direction from where we believe China should go; maintaining the 1993 ban and setting a clear plan and timeline to close existing captive tiger breeding facilities used for commercial purposes.”

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Apr 19, 2019

Five Petitions To Sign This Earth Week

Only have five minutes to spare, but still want to help make a difference? Add your name to these petitions!



Brooke Hess

Starting in 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated annually on April 22nd worldwide. There are currently 192 countries participating in Earth Day. Considering that there are 195 countries on Earth, this participation statistic is pretty dang good! The goal of Earth Day is to raise awareness of environmental issues facing our planet and help spark action that will change these issues for a cleaner, healthier Earth.

With Earth Day fast approaching, you may be thinking of things you can do to contribute to the cause. If you can’t take off a day of work to head out into the forest and plant trees, here are some environmentally-focused petitions you can sign during your lunch break instead!

How petitions help:

Petitions mobilize support. They bring together organizational strength and demonstrate the ability for supporters to come together for change.

Jason Del Gandio, a professor of communications and social movements, told the New York Times that, “The biggest benefit from a petition is raised awareness… No president is going to do an about-face on a major policy because of 20,000 signatures. But coupling that petition with other tactics like protests, rallies, phone calls, face-to-face lobbying, a well-organized media plan and community outreach creates an environment in which the goals of the signatories can become reality.”

A petition itself won’t cause immediate change, however, it has the ability to spark more activism among its supporters.

Here are five petitions to sign this Earth Day:

Make Earth Day A National Holiday

Sign the petition here.

Photo: The North Face

If you are like the majority of Americans who will be stuck in an office today instead of outside enjoying what Mother Nature has given us, you might be interested in this petition. The North Face started this petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

This would allow for workers in the U.S. to take a day off work to celebrate this day, contribute to a cause that inspires them, and generally spend some time appreciating the Earth.

Save The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Sign the Petition here.

Firth River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Thayer, A., U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest national wildlife refuge in the country. According to the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the purpose of a national wildlife refuge is “To administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of the present and future generations of Americans.”

Right now, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is under threat of oil and gas drilling due to a Taxation Bill that has just been passed by the U.S. Senate. Sign this petition if you want to demand that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be protected from oil drilling!

Remove The Snake River Dams. Save The Salmon! Save The Orcas!

Sign both this petition and this petition.

Lower Granite Dam, Snake River

Dams have a significant impact on spawning Salmon. The added stress that dams add to their breeding patterns has caused the Snake River Sockeye Salmon to be in danger of extinction. This lowered population of Snake River Sockeye has resulted in a smaller food supply for the salmon-eating Southern Resident Orcas.

If the lower Snake River dams are removed, survival rates of Sockeye Salmon would double. Not only would this help the fish population return from near extinction, but it would help recover the Orca population with an ample food supply.

Sign both of these petitions to remove the lower Snake River dams!

Wild Orcas Need Wild Salmon!

Sign the petition here.

Patagonia began this petition to continue the fight to save the wild Salmon and Orcas (similar to the petitions mentioned above).

Right now, Washington State has proposed a plan to “feed the Orcas” with hatchery and farmed salmon. However, scientific research has shown that Orcas need the larger wild salmon to flourish. Not hatchery salmon. And the addition of hatchery salmon will weaken the wild salmon gene pool, thus contributing further to the endangerment of the species.

Read next: The Three to Five Year Whale Watching Ban: For Conservation, or the Economy?

Patagonia proposes that we, “Tell NOAA Regional Administrator Barry Thom, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind, and our elected decision-makers to stop wasting money on failed plans and invest in science-based solutions: reduce hatchery production, remove dams, and change how we harvest salmon.”

Sign the petition if you agree with Patagonia!

Ban The Use Of Tiger Bone And Rhino Horn 

Sign the Petition here.

On October 29th, 2018, China released a statement allowing the trade of tiger bone and rhino horn for medicinal use.

Neither tiger bone nor rhino horn has shown healing effects as medicinal remedies. And with fewer than 30,000 rhinos and 3,900 tigers left in the wild, the possibility of those species going extinct is, unfortunately, extremely high. After a wave of protests, China postponed the ban being lifted. However, the extent of this postponement is not known.

Sign the petition if you want the use of tiger and rhino products to remain banned!


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