Friday, November 17, 2006

What part of the tiger is in tiger balm?

None. (Of course)

I remember the contorversy over killing animals for their horns or their bile when I was in school. I don't remember ever coming across any of it. In fact, in our herbal pharmacy, the only animal specimes we would bag up and boil were things like cicada molting (Chan Tui), dried worms (Di Long), and my personal favorite, flying squril feces (Wu Ling Zhi). Yum yum.

Wile we are an ocean away from this scandle, it is probably only a matter of time before the next question out a patrients mouth after "what do you do with your needles?" will be, "is there any trafficed endangered specias in this formula?."

Chinese medicine interest threatens rare species
By Matthew Jones Fri Nov 17, 12:35 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons are embracing traditional Chinese medicine and unwittingly fuelling a $10 billion illegal trade in the world's most endangered species, police said.

The market in London for products made from tiger bone, rhino horn and bear bile has grown to such an extent that a special police taskforce is trying to stamp it out.

"We cannot expect the international trade to stop while it continues here in London," Janet Williams, London's deputy assistant police commissioner, told a news conference on Friday.

Rare breeds have been decimated, not just because of demand from China but also Westerners wanting alternative treatments.

Since 1970, about 98 percent of the world's black rhino have been killed for their horns -- largely to supply the Chinese medicine trade. And fewer than 5,000 tigers are estimated to be left in the wild, compared with 100,000 in 1990.

The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Charm in 1995 to tackle the trade, and since then have seized over 30,000 endangered species items, most destined for Chinese medicine.

But it is an uphill battle.

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