Target: Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China
Goal: Challenge the unnecessary use of lion bones in Chinese medicines
In China, it was (and is) traditionally thought that medicines made with tiger bones could cure rheumatism and stomach aches while granting the drinker increased strength, virility, and longevity. The practice of killing tigers for their bones, however, has come under fire. Coupled with the decrease in the tiger population, this has made the acquisition of tiger bones almost too difficult. Now, many are turning to lions.
The wild tiger population dropped sharply around 2008, and traders and poachers from countries like China and Vietnam have begun hunting South African lions. There are up to 5,000 captive lions in South Africa, not including the 2,000 living in protected reserves and national parks. This makes lions much easier to hunt, and also, trade in lion parts is still legal. However, the lion population is quickly declining.
Poachers and traders are able to sell lion bones for about $75 per pound, or $5,000 for a complete skeleton. South Africa has also made it easier for traders and trophy dealers to export lion bones, even if they did not kill the lion themselves. Now, tourists can come to South Africa and spend money to hunt lions and other animals. If the tourist does not want to keep the lion’s body or bones, however, he can sell the lion’s bones for a large sum to Chinese trophy dealers.
Despite the ease with which tourists and hunters can legally kill lions, it is estimated that half of the lion bones leaving South Africa are being exported illegally after being obtained by poachers. This practice is incredibly harmful for the lion population, and these already rare animals are on a rapid decline. Protest the use of their bones in medicine, and ensure that they remain safe from poachers and hunters.
Dear Ambassador Locke,
The practice of using crushed tiger bones in Chinese medicine has fortunately been on a slow decline, but the market has seized upon a new material to imbue traditional medicines with similar benefits to the drinker. Lion bones have been gaining popularity in medicine, and the lion population is facing the same fate as the tiger population as a result. Poachers and hunters are able to make huge profits selling tiger skeletons to Chinese and Southeast Asian trophy dealers, who then export the bones back to their country.
The United States must express its dissatisfaction with such a practice, and demand that China stops encouraging the hunting of lions. While it is legal to hunt lions, the use of their bones has driven up the price hunters can get for lions’ bodies, thus creating more of an incentive to kill as many lions as possible. This is extremely harmful for the lion population, and places the animals in an alarming amount of danger. The United States must put pressure on China to stop the use of lion bones in traditional medicine, and to limit the lion hunting that China’s medical industry is inspiring. The world must stand up to protect these magnificent animals before there are none left.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: etrusia uk (Away for a while) via Flickr