In response to the news that China has postponed implementing new regulation that would have allowed the use of tiger bone and rhino horn by hospitals, and domestic trade in antique tiger and rhino products, Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader said:
“WWF welcomes the news that China has postponed lifting its ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn and tiger bone, signalling a positive response to international reaction. Allowing trade from even captive animals could have had devastating impacts on wild rhino and tiger populations. This move helps maintain the leadership role China has taken in tackling the illegal wildlife trade and reducing market demand.
“With wild tiger and rhino populations at such low levels and facing numerous threats, extra caution and careful consideration should be given when considering relaxing any ban on trade in tiger and rhino parts.
“WWF has long appreciated the Chinese government’s landmark 1993 ban of trade in tiger bone and rhino horn and acknowledges that the 1993 ban has been crucial in helping to protect these iconic species.
"It is important to send a strong message that the value of wild populations of tigers and rhinos and their ecosystems is much greater than the value of their parts and horns."
WWF notes that China has previously demonstrated leadership in support of the conservation of wild tiger populations. The Chinese government has already undertaken considerable efforts to recover its tiger population in the Northeast region of the country by recently establishing the Tiger and Leopard National Park, 1.6 times larger than Yellowstone National Park in the US.
During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit held in China in September 2018, China and African states issued the Beijing Action Plan, pledging to “jointly fight the smuggling of endangered species and their products. Fulfilling these commitments will help to boost China's image internationally, strengthen collaboration with rhino and tiger range countries in Africa and Asia, in the context of China's "Belt & Road Initiative.”