China banned ivory, what made it give rhino horn and tiger bones the green light?
- If we do not stand up to those focused on eliminating wildlife, we will be explaining to our children and grandchildren why we let it happen
We read with horror and dismay the decision taken by China to lift the ban on the use of rhino horn and tiger bones for use in medicine (“China reverses 25-year ban on trade and use of rhino horns and tiger bones”, October 30). Rhino horn is basically made up of keratin, the same material that our hair and nails are made of, as are animal hooves. Those who support the use of animal parts for medicine, especially endangered species, will say that there is special healing power that comes from these items. However, since when has biting your nails or eating your hair made you feel better?
There are approximately 30,000 rhinos left in the wild, we have seen the extinction of one type of rhino in recent years and there are only two northern white rhinos left, both of which are female. It’s only a matter of time before these also become extinct.
China has recently made great strides in conservation, especially with its banning of the ivory trade at the beginning of this year. And, as people become more educated about the realities of how these animals are killed, how badly the communities they live in are then affected, and the myths surrounding the use of their body parts, the more we see them rejecting the idea of pushing the animals to extinction.
Do people really believe that once these animals are gone poachers and traders will not move to another animal and then another, and another?
The Elephant Foundation centres its work on educating youth about the importance of keeping wildlife alive, especially endangered species such as elephants and rhinos. The more people we speak with, the greater understanding there is about the truth behind the trade in parts from endangered animals.
As we move towards our fifth Hong Kong Elephant Week in the middle of November, we and the African Wildlife Foundation look forward to welcoming three advocates of conservation to Hong Kong to help raise awareness of these magnificent animals and the important part they play in Africa, not least in helping communities there survive and thrive.
Watch: China reverses 25-year ban on use of rhino and tiger products
The message is simple, if we do not stand up to those focused on eliminating wildlife, we will be explaining to our children and grandchildren why we stood back and let it happen when we had the power to stop it, and why they can only see pictures in story books of animals that currently roam freely.
We call upon China to reverse its decision and continue to take a strong stand against the destruction of wildlife and the habitat it lives in. Only by saying no to the practice of trade in endangered species will these animals have a chance to live.
Colin Dawson, founder, The Elephant Society, director, The Elephant Foundation