Doctor attacks slaughter of rhinos for medicine

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 October, 1993, 12:00am

BUTCHERING rhinos for use in traditional medicine is unnecessary, a leading practitioner has claimed.

At least 27 plants have similar medicinal properties to those found in various parts of a rhinoceros, according to Dr Lo Yan-wo, chairman of the 300-member Association of Chinese Medical and Philosophy.

He called for greater respect and recognition for traditional Chinese medicine from the Hong Kong Government, to help raise its status and to introduce guidelines and regulations to end reliance on illegal substances such as rhino horn.

Representatives from six Chinese medicine groups met environmental bodies to discuss the industry.

Dr Lo, who represents practitioners from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Macau, even presented the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) with sample plants to back his case that killing rhinos in Asia and Africa was unnecessary.

The EIA released findings last week of an undercover operation on Chinese pharmacies in Hong Kong, which revealed 59 out of 90 stores surveyed had rhino horn, hide or patent medicines for sale.

It also produced evidence that Hong Kong was being used as the ''middle man'' to smuggle rhino horn and other products to huge illegal stockpiles in China and Taiwan.

Dr Lo said problems lay with the Hong Kong Government's negative attitude and ignorance towards traditional medicine.

He warned of an increasing number of unscrupulous practitioners placing lives at risk through careless prescriptions, and contributing to the unnecessary slaughter of endangered animals.

A registry of qualified doctors would solve the problem under current law, which allowed any person of Chinese descent to practise traditional medicine.

EIA executive director David Currey said the group would draw up a draft proposal, stating alternatives existed to rhino.

for the Chinese medical community.