China relaxes decades old ban on sale of rhino, tiger parts

China relaxes decades old ban on sale of rhino, tiger parts
© Getty Images

China in a government directive published Monday relaxed a 25-year ban on the sale and use of tiger and rhino parts.

The country will now allow certified hospitals and doctors to use rhino horns and tiger bones for “medical research or in healing,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

It also allows several other exceptions to the ban, including scientific research, educational and cultural exchanges.

ADVERTISEMENT

The parts must come from animals raised in captivity, but not zoo animals. 

The decision comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping launches a campaign to promote China's medicine sector, which has grown considerably in recent years.

The state did not make public its reason for easing the ban and did not provide immediate comment to the Journal.

Conservationists quickly lashed out at the move, saying it will likely encourage poachers and stoke black-market trade in rhino and tiger parts.

“It sets up what is essentially a laundering scheme for illegal tiger bone and rhino horn to enter the marketplace and further perpetuate the demand for these animal parts,” a wildlife specialist at D.C. nonprofit Humane Society International, Iris Ho, told the Journal in a statement.

China is the already the world's largest market for illegal rhino horn, according to a Los Angeles-based conservation nonprofit called Elephant Action League. 

This is despite the long-standing ban on the trade or medical use of rhino horn and tiger bone that China laid down in 1993.

Experts estimate there are only 30,000 rhinos and 3,900 tigers in the wild left across the world, according to the Journal.