The news of China lifting the ban on use of tiger bones and rhino horns in traditional medicine has sent shock waves across conservation circles.
This has pushed officials and conservationists into a huddle to discuss the next course of action. They are demanding that the Environment ministry take stern action and tiger states to stay on alert. Poaching is the second biggest international illegal trade globally after narcotics and with this news, it will only get bigger, fear experts.
China had imposed a ban on use of tiger bones and claws in 1993. Despite this, illegal wildlife trade thrived. This news has come at a time when the tiger census report is being finalised.
A senior National Tiger Conservation Authority of India (NTCA) official said: “India has a healthy tiger population and Karnataka, the highest. But poaching threat is larger. Though discussions are being held to oppose this internationally, there is a need to strengthen ground efforts. Karnataka seems relaxed when compared other states.”
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Tiger, Jagat Ram said staff are alert and all measures are in place. According to the last census, there were around 400 tigers in Karnataka and the coming report may show an increase in numbers.
G S Rawat, dean, Wildlife Institute of India said that it is necessary to increase protection measures as this is a serious issue. China’s decision could lead to bigger problems. Apart from stern laws, there is also a need to intensify patrolling.
Saket Badola, Head of Traffic — India, said online wildlife trade is also thriving. Such announcements will only add to more numbers and this needs to be curtailed immediately.
Tiger scientist K Ullas Karanth said it is a regressive move by China. While they have been fairly strict on ivory and recently declared a tiger reserve, this announcement is at cross purposes to this. Once the market opens it will be very difficult to control it.