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Chinese Medicine Societies Reject Use of Tiger Bones Ahead of CITES Conference

March 14, 2010

WWF and TRAFFIC International welcome a World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) statement urging its members not to use tiger bone or any other parts from endangered wildlife.

The statement was made at a symposium on Friday in Beijing and notes that some of the claimed medicinal benefits of tiger bone have no basis. The use of tiger bones was removed from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacopeia in 1993, when China first introduced a domestic ban on tiger trade.

“Tiger conservation has become a political issue in the world. Therefore, it’s necessary for the traditional Chinese medicine industry to support the conservation of endangered species, including tigers,” said Huang Jianyin, deputy secretary of WFCMS.

Illegal trade in Asian big cat products is a key issue at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of Parties meeting at Doha, Qatar. China is among the 175 countries that are signatories to this international treaty governing wildlife trade.

“CITES governments should be encouraged by this statement and use the opportunity they have at this meeting to pass measures, that if properly enforced, can help put an end to tiger trade,” said Dr. Colman O’Criodain, Wildlife trade analyst, WWF International.

The statement also calls on all WFCMS’ members to promote tiger conservation and encourages them to abide by all relevant international and national regulations on wildlife trade.

“The Societies’ public declaration is a clear signal that the traditional Chinese medicinal community is now backing efforts to secure a future for wild tigers,” said Professor Xu Hongfa, head of TRAFFIC’s programme in China.

As an international traditional Chinese academic organization, the WFCMS stated that it had a duty to research the conservation of endangered species, including tigers.

“In the meantime, We will ask our members not to use endangered wildlife in traditional Chinese medicine, and reduce the misunderstanding and bias of the international community,” said the WFCMS’ Huang Jianyin. “The traditional Chinese medicine industry should look for substitutes and research on economical and effective substitutes for tiger products, which will improve the international image and status of traditional Chinese medicine and promote TCM in the world.”

The WFCMS is an international academic organization based in Beijing, with 195 member organizations spanning 57 nations where traditional Chinese medicine is used. It aims to promote the development of traditional Chinese medicine, which is a primary form of healthcare delivery in China, and widely regarded as an important part of China’s rich cultural heritage.

WWF and TRAFFIC are calling for a permanent ban on all trade in tiger parts and products, and for a curtailment of commercial captive breeding operations.

Wild tigers are especially in the spotlight as 2010 marks the celebration of the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. This year is seen as a unique opportunity to galvanize international action to save this iconic species.

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ACTCM’s Role In Tiger Conservation:

In 1998, American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) began its efforts to raise public awareness about endangered species when it partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to build public support for tiger, rhino and endangered species conservation. By combining the expertise of both institutions, the message of supporting healthy people and a healthy planet has reached thousands of people, bridging the communication gap between the conservation and TCM communities.

ACTCM's partnership with WWF has developed a public outreach initiative on endangered species used in traditional medicine, and represents an important conservation milestone. ACTCM and WWF have achieved great success in reaching key communities in a way that is culturally sensitive and scientifically sound. This is the first systematic effort to educate conservationists about traditional Chinese medicine in health care and to educate TCM users in North America about endangered species.

In 1998, American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and World Wildlife Fund organized the "Save the Tiger" symposium held in San Francisco.

In 1999, American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and World Wildlife Fund organized the "Healthy People, Healthy Planet Conference on TCM and Wildlife Conservation" in Beijing, China.
The conference was supported by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the "Save the Tiger Fund" from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Johnson and Johnson, and other foundations. These events brought together TCM specialists, conservationists, law enforcement officials and CITES experts, and TCM retailers to address wildlife conservation.

In December 2005, Save the Tiger Fund (STF), a program of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, entered into a three-year agreement with the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to conduct a global campaign against the use of tiger bone as a medicine and tonic.

In October 2006, the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies co-hosted with American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Save the Tiger Fund a conference in Beijing for high-level representatives of the TCM industry worldwide, conservationists, and Tibetan leaders to discuss why tiger parts and derivatives of other endangered species must be eradicated from use in medicines, tonics and, in the case of Tibetans, clothing. This forum was the launching place for a petition asking TCM industry representatives all over the world to renounce the use of tiger bone and other endangered species derivatives.

In 2007, the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies conducted the Ten-Thousand Mile Travel Campaign, during which a group of TCM specialists traveled from Heilongjiang (the "tiger province") to Yunnan Province, stopping at events hosted by local affiliates along the way to raise public awareness about why tiger bone and other endangered species parts can no longer be sold or used.

In May 2007, ACTCM President Lixin Huang Huang testified in front of Congress that since China’s 14-year-old ban on domestic tiger trade, Chinese medicine practitioners have been able to successfully treat patients without using tiger products. She also noted that if the ban were overturned, the growing popularity of Chinese medicine around the world could be bad news for tigers.

In June 2007, ACTCM President Lixin Huang attended the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in the Hague. In an effort to strengthen conservation of wild tigers, a decision was reached that Tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts.

In June 2008 Lixin Huang, President of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and Judy Mills, Board member of ACTCM and director of the International Tiger Coalition (ITC), joined members of the international conservation community and actors Harrison Ford and Bo Derek for an event at the National Zoo in Washington, DC on June 9th. The event, sponsored by the World Bank, was held to raise awareness about tiger conservation and to announce its plan to undertake a global joint venture to help reverse the decline wild tigers — the first-ever species initiative by the World Bank.

In 2008, just before the Olympics opened in Beijing, Save the Tiger Fund (STF), a program of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), and the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) held the sequel meeting to a 2006 conference. Prior to the meeting's start, WFCMS held an event with thousands of people at the Great Wall, where the completed global petition against the use of tiger bone and other endangered species parts was presented as a gift to Beijing's self-proclaimed "green" Olympics.

November 2009, Lixin Huang, president of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM), participated in an event called "Healing Without Harm". Huang joined Jill Robinson, founder and executive director of Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), for a fascinating look at the use of endangered species products in traditional medicine. Huang and Robinson have formed a unique partnership aimed at providing TCM practitioners and users world-wide with information regarding alternatives to endangered species ingredients in traditional medicine.

On November 28th and 29th, 2009, American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) organized a successful and historic gathering of experts from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and international wildlife conservation communities in Beijing, China. The International Symposium for the Conservation of Endangered Species and TCM was held in conjunction with the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) annual Herbal Committee meeting and was funded through a grant from Animals Asia Foundation. Through this event, ACTCM launched the issue of endangered species conservation, as well as the humane treatment of medicinal species such as bear, to the forefront of attention of TCM professionals from across China.

 

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a 3,000-year-old medical system that includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage & bodywork, nutrition and exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong. TCM holds that when the human body is kept in a harmonious balance, health and well-being are naturally maintained.

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