In an enormous setback for wildlife conservation, China announced it will allow hospitals to use tiger bone and rhino horn from captive-bred animals for traditional medicine. The decision reverses a decades-old ban that has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of endangered tigers and rhinos.
WWF spoke with Ming Yao, a member of WWF’s wildlife conservation team who has worked closely with ivory demand reduction projects, to learn more about her point of view on China’s ivory ban and how it has influenced consumer behavior in her country.
Research has found that regular outbound Chinese travelers have the highest interest in purchasing ivory despite the ban in China. Their travel gives them access to ivory in some of the destinations most popular with Chinese travelers where ivory is still on the shelves. To achieve the goal of the ban—saving Africa’s elephants—we must curb consumer purchase of ivory outside China.
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Current rules protect some tigers and not others, and remaining legal loopholes leave captive tigers vulnerable to wildlife traffickers and the international trade in tiger parts – the same trade that is the primary threat to wild tigers.