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Rhinoceros Horn and Tiger Bone in China: An Investigation of Trade Since the 1993 Ban

A TRAFFIC Network Report May 1997

Executive summary

In May 1993, in response to international conservation concern about the threat to rhinoceroses and Tigers posed by commercial trade, the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued a ban on trade in rhinoceros horn, Tiger bone and their medicinal derivatives. This ban included the removal of these items from the official pharmacopeia of China, and the cessation of all manufacture and commercial trade within China.

To ascertain the effectiveness of this ban, TRAFFIC conducted surveys of China's retail market in 1994, 1995 and 1996, as well as a mail survey of pharmaceutical manufacturers in 1995. While in China, TRAFFIC investigators gathered anecdotal information about the Government's means of implementing the ban and the level of awareness of the ban in China's traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) community.

This report presents the findings of these four post-ban investigations, all of which where carried out by Chinese-speaking investigators of Chinese descent. Trends are examined to the extent possible, though very little pre-ban market information is available for making plausible "before and after" comparisons.

In the three post-ban surveys of the retail market in China, investigators researched availability of three categories of prohibited items: 1) raw rhinoceros horn and rhinoceros horn powder; 2) commercially-packaged Tiger-bone wines and plasters; and, 3) other manufactured traditional Chinese medicines containing rhinoceros horn and/or Tiger bone.

In 1994, rhinoceros horn or horn powder was seen in 7.6% of the 170 businesses (shops, and hospital and clinic pharmacies) in which horn was requested and with 6.5% of the approximately 154 medicine-market vendors surveyed that year. Commercially packaged Tiger-bone wines or plasters were seen in 8.7% of the 208 businesses in which they were requested in 1994 and with 3.9% of approximately 154 medicine-market vendors surveyed. Other types of manufactured Chinese medicines claiming to contain rhinoceros


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