CONSERVATION GROUP REFUTES ACCUSATION
I refer to the report from The Independent, headlined 'Misguided conservation decision puts an Asian antelope on the brink of extinction' (South China Morning Post, February 14) which reported that 'in the early 1990s the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) . . . actively promoted saiga horn as an alternative to the horn of endangered rhinos, used in traditional Chinese medicine'.
WWF Hong Kong strongly refutes this accusation. We did award a scientific research grant in 1990 to the Chinese University of Hong Kong to study the antipyretic properties of horns of rhino, saiga antelope, domestic buffalo and ox.
The study found that hot water extracts of the horn of all tested animals could, at various dosages, reduce fever in rats with induced hypothermia. The results were published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 1990.
However, WWF Hong Kong has never run 'a campaign' to promote, nor endorsed in any way, the use of saiga antelope horn as an alternative to rhino horn.
In contrast, we remain concerned and object to the Hong Kong government's exemption applied to regulatory controls of trade in saiga horns, which have been listed on Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, but not included in the local legislation's schedules.
WWF will continue to work for the conservation of endangered species including rhino and saiga antelope through sound scientific research and effective field programmes, such as anti-poaching training.
ALEX S. K. YAU
WWF Hong Kong