The international commercial trade in tigers and their parts and derivatives was banned in 1987 in order to
stop the steep decline in wild tiger numbers due to poaching.
But the largest consumers of tiger bone in medicine, China and South Korea, continued to allow domestic trade because of the enormous demand for traditional medicines made with tiger bone.
As evidence mounted that domestic markets in China and South Korea were undermining the international ban, the two countries banned all trade in tiger bones and derivatives – China in 1993 and South Korea in 1994.
These bans stopped a legal trade that would have required the bones of more than 2,000 tigers – half the estimated tigers remaining in the wild today – over the past 15 years .
Working with Traditional Medicine Practitioners
The governments of China and South Korea, along with the traditional medicine communities in both nations, launched widespread public awareness campaigns to make traditional medicine practitioners and users aware of the new bans.
EXPLORE: CI has many exciting partners in China.
Although traditional medicine practitioners did not at first embrace the bans, they eventually began working with conservationists to dissuade use of tiger products – for the sake of Earth’s natural balance and to protect the image of traditional Asian medicine, which had seen an expanded global interest.
And with Supportive Governments
Government agencies also supported the development of alternatives to medicines containing tiger bone, which led to the numerous widely accepted, effective and sustainable alternatives in use today.
IN DEPTH: Tiger Profile
A recent survey of urban Chinese in seven major cities in China shows widespread support for keeping China’s ban in place, for the sake of wild tigers and China’s image in the global community.
While 43 percent of respondents said they had consumed tiger products at one time, 88 percent knew buying tiger products is illegal, and 93 percent agreed that China’s ban was necessary to protect wild tigers.
Efforts Against the Black Market Continue
Still, a stubborn residual black market persists for tiger bones and tonic wines made from tiger bones, as well as for tiger skins for ornamental uses.
CI and its partners in the International Tiger Coalition are calling on tiger range and consuming countries to redouble their efforts to enforce the array of international and domestic laws that ban tiger trade around the world.
Despite the uphill battle, CI is committed to stopping the illegal tiger trade – and the illegal wildlife trade in general.
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