China Allows—then Disavows—Medicinal Use of Tiger, Rhino Parts

On October 29, the State Council of China issued a policy directive indicating that the use of horn and bones from farmed rhinos and tigers for “medical research or in healing” would be allowed—reversing a 25-year ban on the practice. Animal protection groups immediately and forcefully decried the decision, stating that reviving a legal avenue for such products would provide black market dealers a golden opportunity to launder wild rhino and tiger parts.

Two weeks later, the Chinese government reversed course. In remarks published by the state-run media on November 12, State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong stated that the previous order was put on hold and medicinal use of rhino and tiger horn would—at least for now—continue to be banned.