It’s growing rapidly in Asia, with big cats being used as traditional Asian medicine.
Recent medical breakthroughs have produced amazing, mind-blowing discoveries such as facial transplants, bionic eyes, and 3D printed body pieces.
People live longer, are more likely to survive, and there are many cures for many diseases. Modern medicine has brought us many benefits, but ancient remedies remain popular in Asia.
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Traditional medicine based on plants has been around for many years and will continue to be so for many more. Many herbal remedies have been proven to be curative and are very popular in many countries.
It is a great thing to have the ability to choose which treatment works best for you.
A huge industry
The global traditional Asian medicine industry is valued at USD$50-USD$1201 billion. The World Health Organisation (WHO) supported traditional medicine despite widespread criticism.
Unfortunately, many traditional practices are cruel to wild animals and cause great suffering.
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Tradition’s dark side
Traditional Asian medicine is based upon a completely different concept than modern medicine and is therefore of great importance to many people.
Many remedies don’t use wild animal products and are often entirely non-animal. However, there are some that do and it is not expensive for wildlife.
Bears spend their whole lives in tiny cages, with their bile being painfully removed from their abdomens.
- Last remaining rhinos are being brutally murdered and their horns chopped off
- Pangolins are captured and killed in order to sell their scales on the black market
- Poaching and farmed for bones, lions and tigers are some of the big cats being poached.
- It is unnecessary. There are many synthetic and plant-based options for the conditions these products are used for.
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The global threat to big cats
Over the past century, big cat populations have fallen into insignificance. The number of wild tigers is just shy at 4,000. There are only about 20,000 lions left in the wild, a decrease of about 200,000 from a century ago.
These declines are mainly due to habitat loss, hunting, and conflicts between humans and wildlife. But another danger is the expanding market for their body parts. It is now a global problem because demand for their body parts exceeds supply in Asia.
Jaguars in Suriname
We revealed last year that jaguars in South America are being poached from their wild habitat in Suriname.
The carcasses of the animals are reduced to a paste and then smuggled into China with tubs. This is done in order to treat similar ailments to those found in tigers products.
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South Africa’s Lions
South Africa’s lion cubs can be walked with lions at tourist locations and peddled. They are then used to ‘canned hunt’, where the hunters pay large sums for a guaranteed kill.
The bones of the lions are then taken and exported to Asia. This is legal in South Africa. In 2018, South Africa exported 1,500 lion skeletons.
Tigers in China
It is believed that there are more than 6,000 tigers living in China’s factory farms than the wild population. They are kept in concrete, cramped enclosures and are unable to behave naturally.
They are forced to perform tricks to tourists and then they drink tonics and wines made with bones from their ancestors. This is exploitation at its worst and cruelest.
Big cat farms are not good for wildlife conservation
It is often believed that big cat farms reduce pressure on wild animals. This belief is false. Our latest study revealed that big cat products made from wild cats are preferred to farmed. This was confirmed by almost nine out of ten Vietnamese and more than half the Chinese consumers.
Farms are cruel and should be stopped. They also encourage the poaching of wild animals and the growth of the market for these products.
It’s a uphill struggle
Although we are trying to save these animals as much as possible, it is a difficult task. Think about the fact that China banned domestic trade in rhino horns or tiger bones 25 years ago. This gave these amazing animals an important lifeline.
The ban was lifted at the end last year to allow medical treatment for farmed tigers parts. This would have reversal of years of progress. We are concerned that this temporary measure will be put on hold, even though it has been.
Wildlife. Not medicine.
No matter if they’re taken from the Amazon, the plains or Africa, big cats are wildlife and not medicine.
We, our supporters, and many others agree that these amazing animals deserve a wild life and belong in it.
These animals do not have a voice, so we must speak out. Because time is running out, we must urge the world to take action now to protect these animals.