By Other Lisa, cross-posted at the paper tiger…
This is a wretchedly awful move on the part of the Chinese government, if they do in fact go ahead with plans to reopen legal trade in tiger parts:
Tiger organs, teeth, bones and penises fetch high prices on the black market, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicines to treat ailments like rheumatism. In other parts of Asia, the bones are considered an aphrodisiac.
China banned domestic trade in all tigers and tiger parts in 1993, but is considering re-opening the business based on farm-bred, captive animals.
But that would send a signal that it is acceptable to buy tiger parts which would threaten wild tiger populations, experts in the wildlife trade said.
“We’re afraid that poachers living near the world’s last populations of tigers may kill them to supply illegal markets that are likely to develop alongside any new legal ones,” Susan Lieberman, head of WWF’s Global Species Programme, said in a statement.
“This could be the final act that drives the tiger towards extinction.”
I can’t think of any positive spin, any possible excuse for this. What in the world is motivating the government? Surely tiger farmers and traders in animal parts aren’t that powerful a lobby. I can only take cultural relativism so far. Some things are just wrong.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to take action against this disgusting, irresponsible decision, please let me know…
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.