The Chinese government has alarmed conservation groups with plans to relax restrictions on the trade of rhino horns and tiger bones.
Parts from captive animals will be authorised for scientific, medical and cultural use, Beijing’s State Council announced on Monday.
The move lifted restrictions put in place by China in 1993 as part of a global effort to protect the world’s endangered wildlife species, Al Jazeera reports.
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Rhino horns and tiger bones are prized as ingredients in Chinese traditional medicine, but their supposed medical benefits have not been scientifically proven.
Campaigners have urged the government to reconsider the move, warning that it will push the two endangered species closer to extinction.
“We are deeply concerned about China's uplift of the ban and we are battling to comprehend this shocking decision,” Audrey Delsink, wildlife director of the Humane Society International, told the South China Morning Post.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said relaxing the ban on trading rhino and tiger parts was an “enormous setback” to efforts to protect the animals in the wild.
Even if restricted to antiques and use in hospitals and research labs, “this trade would increase confusion by consumers and law enforcers as to which products are and are not legal, and would likely expand the markets for other tiger and rhino products”, WWF said.
But Beijing appears unwilling to budge on the issue. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said yesterday that the reversal of the ban was in line with the "reasonable needs of reality”.
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