photo: Tambako the Jaguar via flickr.
Since it's the Year of the Tiger by the Chinese calendar and the UN Year of Biodiversity, the whole internet seems to have gone tiger crazy. Not without reason, truth be told. By a number of estimates, wild tigers aren't long for this planet as continued habitat loss and poaching take their toll. On the poaching angle, one major cause is use of skins and bones in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Which makes a statement by the World Federations of Chinese Medicine Societies urging members to not use tiger bones all the more important.WWF reports that the statement was made at a symposium last Friday in Beijing and went on the say that some of claimed medical benefits of tiger bones have no basis.
We will ask our members not to use endangered wildlife in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and reduce the misunderstanding and bias of the international community. The Traditional Chinese Medicine industry should look for substitutes and research on economical and effective substitutes for tiger products, which will improve the international image and status of Traditional Chinese Medicine and promote TCM in the world.
Which is all fine and good, but since, as WWF also points out, the use of tiger bones was removed from the official TCM pharmacopeia in 1993 and, at least in recent years, poaching has only increased. So, this is a positive step but only part of the solution, strong enforcement of anti-poaching and anti-animal trafficking laws is crucial.
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