Cropwatch Newsletter 4 - Red Alert Issue
§15. Tiger Parts in TCM: News Update.
In Cropwatch 9 (Aug 2005) and subsequently in the January 2006 Cropwatch Newsletter (Vol 2 Issue 1 No 1) we reported on diminishing tiger numbers coupled with the increasing trade in wild animal parts. Until now, there have been no firm current tiger numbers reported and various groups and governmental departments have significantly escalated efforts to gather accurate information on this and a concerted effort at greater communication sharing concerning smuggling outfits and increased security has been employed in the past year. A joint effort between Save The Tiger Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park has resulted in the most extensive tiger survey to date being produced earlier this month (July 2006). With a remit to establish global tiger conservation priorities and identify conservation landscapes that will be able to support tiger populations in the future, the report used the latest satellite technology and GIS (Geographical Information Systems) looking at over 3,000 tiger locations to establish both numbers and ranges of roaming. The survey found tigers in just 7% of their former range.
The survey identified "four strongholds for tiger conservation that have the potential to support 1,000 tigers or more”, including the Russian Far East, the Terai Arc Landscape, the Northern forest complex of Myanmar, India and Bhutan and the Tenasserim range of Thailand and Myanmar. The new landscapes map identifies over 1.1 million km2 of remaining tiger habitats, 23% of which is legally protected, compared to a global average of just 13%."1
A previous lack of co-operation from China has been thought a major player in the ability of traffickers in wild animal parts to move freely into China from neighbouring countries to sell their wares. Pressure on China has lately resulted in a series of talks and visits by China to India to discuss joint efforts in crime prevention. It is still too early to be able to report any real progress but with so many eyes in tiger protection circles watching China now, it seems to us that they now have little choice but to co-operate.
Meanwhile, India 's Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, an initiative of Prime minister Manmohan Singh that Cropwatch reported on last year is now fully functional and has the necessary people and policies in place to enable them to catch, punish and deter tiger traders. Prime Minister Singh has not taken his eye off the ball on this one and is presently fine-tuning the various sections and departments of the Bureau.
Sections of the Indian Press however are not helping the situation, if the July 17 edition of India Today magazine is anything to go by. Cropwatch is aghast at Barun Mitra's assertions in an article that the recent emergence of tiger farming will be able to supply the demand for tiger bones to ease the "suffering of Chinese patients who rely on TCM for relief." whilst also saving India's wild tigers!! 2
Despite the fact that tiger bone has
been banned from use in TCM in China since 1993 and removed from the list of
ingredients in the official Chinese
Pharmacopoeia, a professional journalist is seemingly perpetuating the myth that tiger bone is essential as an ingredient to help arthritis. (Cropwatch 9 discusses this issue and lists viable alternatives that are used to good effect in TCM today).
TCM does not need tiger parts. Full stop.
1. The Tiger Newsletter Summer 2006
2 CATT (Campaign against Tiger Trafficking) bulletins.
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