China applies trade ban to wildlife auctions

China Applies Trade Ban to Wildlife Auctions
Wednesday, 11 January, 2012
Beijing, China

 IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare— applauds an emergency notice from China’s State Forestry Administration urging all Chinese auction houses to adhere to wildlife laws and regulations. The notice highlights China’s trade ban on tiger bone and rhino horn, emphasizing that the ban applies to all auctions. 

Based on a timely tip-off from IFAW in December 2011, wildlife authorities stopped the sale of hundreds of bottles of “tiger bone wine” as well as rhino horn carvings at a high-profile auction in Beijing.

The sale of tiger bone and rhino horn products in the auction was in direct violation of China’s 1993 Circular of the State Council on Banning the Trade of Rhino Horn and Tiger bone, which specifically prohibits all selling, buying, transport, carry, ship by post, import and export of the tiger bone and rhinoceros horn and their products. “The auction of tiger bone wine is not only illegal it contradicts China’s pledge to the world to crack down on poaching, smuggling and trade of tiger products”, said Dr. Meng Xianlin, Director of China Management Authority for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

“In addition to China’s domestic trade ban, tigers and rhinoceros are protected by CITES which prohibits international trade in their parts and products.” said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW’s Asia Regional Director. “However, we have seen a big surge of illegal trade in tiger bone and rhino horn around the world, often at auctions and disguised as ‘antiques’.”

Advertisements to buy “tiger bone wine” produced by famous Traditional Chinese Medicine manufacturers before the trade ban were seen in cities with large ethnic Chinese populations in other parts of the world.

A Google search of “rhino horn auction” results in 879,000 listings, many are blatant promotions of rhino horn sales from auction houses, on Facebook and eBay.

In 2011 thieves targeted rhino horn carvings. As many as 30 rhino horn thefts were reported from museums, galleries, antique dealerships and auction houses across Europe.

Since the issuance of the government notice, another Chinese auction house has cancelled a special auction titled “Rhino horn from the Ming- Qing Dynasties” scheduled for end of December 2011.

“The promotion and auction of tiger bone and rhino horn confuses the public, making people think the trade is legal. It stimulates market demand and fuels poaching of tigers and rhinos in the wild” adds Gabriel. “The ban in endangered species auctions in China should be a model replicated in other parts of the world”.   

IFAW calls for increased vigilance from the international community to prevent wildlife products from entering the auction block, before the endangered species itself is…


About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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