WWF and TRAFFIC welcome a World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) statement urging its members not to use tiger bone or any other parts from endangered wildlife.
The statement was made at a symposium March 12 in Beijing and notes that some of the claimed medicinal benefits of tiger bone have no basis. The use of tiger bones was removed from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacopeia in 1993, when China first introduced a domestic ban on tiger trade.
"Tiger conservation has become a political issue in the world. Therefore, it's necessary for the traditional Chinese medicine industry to support the conservation of endangered species, including tigers," said Huang Jianyin, deputy secretary of WFCMS.
Illegal trade in Asian big cat products is a key issue at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of Parties meeting at Doha, Qatar. China is among the 175 countries that are signatories to this international treaty governing wildlife trade.
"CITES governments should be encouraged by this statement and use the opportunity they have at this meeting to pass measures, that if properly enforced, can help put an end to tiger trade," said Dr. Colman O'Criodain, Wildlife trade analyst, WWF International.
The statement also calls on all WFCMS' members to promote tiger conservation and encourages them to abide by all relevant international and national regulations on wildlife trade.
"The Societies' public declaration is a clear signal that the traditional Chinese medicinal community is now backing efforts to secure a future for wild tigers," said Professor Xu Hongfa, head of TRAFFIC's programme in China.
As an international traditional Chinese academic organization, the WFCMS stated that it had a duty to research the conservation of endangered species, including tigers.
"We will ask our members not to use endangered wildlife in traditional Chinese medicine, and reduce the misunderstanding and bias of the international community," said the WFCMS' Huang Jianyin. "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."
The WFCMS is an international academic organization based in Beijing, with 195 member organizations spanning 57 nations where traditional Chinese medicine is used. It aims to promote the development of traditional Chinese medicine, which is a primary form of healthcare delivery in China, and widely regarded as an important part of China's rich cultural heritage.
WWF and TRAFFIC are calling for a permanent ban on all trade in tiger parts and products, and for a curtailment of commercial captive breeding operations.
Wild tigers are especially in the spotlight as 2010 marks the celebration of the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. This year is seen as a unique opportunity to galvanize international action to save this iconic species.
To read the full statement (no official English translation available), visit www.panda.org/cites/media
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