Rhino horns have traditionally been “used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders.” And, per the National Geographic, tiger bone is used as a protector against “rheumatism and arthritis — and for impotence and flagging libido. But the humerus is the most coveted section of a tiger skeleton: That upper front leg bone is believed to contain the most potent healing powers.”
“It’s a devastating decision,” Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy at the World Wildlife Fund, told the New York Times. “I can’t overstate the potential impact.”
“With wild tiger and rhino populations at such low levels and facing numerous threats, legalized trade in their parts is simply too great a gamble for China to take,” WWF’s global wildlife practice leader, Margaret Kinnaird, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.
Despite the ivory ban, senior Chinese officials have defended the use of animal parts in traditional medicine.
“If in the future original products from wild animals are all substituted, our Chinese medicine perhaps won’t be of any use anymore. This issue needs to be discussed by us Chinese people,” Zhai Yong, head of the Chinese parliament’s environment and resources protection committee legislation department, said the same year the ivory ban went into effect.
The traditional medicine industry, which China has been keen to export overseas, is worth an estimated $100 billion.