Monday, December 24, 2018

Use of Animal Parts in Medicine


I remember whence in the days before legislation I saw my first tiger, it was a dead one, killed at Noradehi WLS in Madhya Pradesh near Jabalpur. The body was lying in front of my porch and a cobbler was skinning the poor predator stripped off all his glory and off his precious fat. The fat, the cobbler told me will be used to stem arthritis pain (sic).

Nevertheless I do not hear much about medicines made from animal parts in India, but the practice still lingers albeit in small quarters. In India thankfully, Ayurveda is popular and it stresses on vegetative matter - herbs, shrubs, trees, fruits, roots, leaves and barks and minerals to be used as medicine. This probably weans us away from medicine made from wild animals to a good extent.  However people still possess big cat claws in India as talisman or a matter of pride. This practice though illegal still persists clandestinely it has to be discouraged.   

Chinese System of Medicine

The scourge emanates from the TCM systems widespread and prevailing since ages. There are number of animal farms in China making medicine from tigers and rhinos to name a few. Although the country stresses on strict regulatory practice to curb use of wild animals the system of medicine is so overcoming that the country is a threat to wild animals especially tigers all over the globe. 

TCM has predated heavily on rhinos and tigers across the globe and is responsible for their endangered status. In India the threat is at high level with organised poachers using safe conduits or porous borders to smuggle tiger bones to in demand areas like China. Ironically the effectiveness of animal medicines usually consumed through culinary medium, powders and liquids has not been proven at all. Hence it is the responsibility of countries of consuming populace to stem the rot through legal means and awareness programs.  

To better understand the prevalence of such practices one needs to study the cultural ethos of that country. However chauvinistic this may sound many countries in the World have no regard for wilderness and do not practice conservation but rather allow the decimation of wild species within their borders. Many countries just pay lip service to conservation many do not care at all.    

Greatest impact accrues from the TCM where a large number of animal parts are smuggled illegally from all over the World. The policy of control in China is impractical and vacillates the country is not at all serious about the havoc TCM is causing rather there are proponents that favor it.  This erratic healing practices is having a negative impact of large number of species including dogs, snakes, pangolin, bears, tigers, rhinos, deer, antelope, seahorses, sharks....there is a long list which informs us of the number of species that is being exterminated by this ancient healing practice. 

Other Animals Victimized

Bear in Vietnam and China are imprisoned and their bile extracted for medicinal purposes. This is illegal but the trade is carried out clandestinely.    

Elephant tusks are used for creating artifacts in Japan & China and as traditional medicine in China and many other parts of the Worlds. A large number of pachyderms in Africa and Asia are under severe threat due to this practice.   

Musk Deer the liquid exuded from musk deer scent pods is used in perfumery but this animal parts are also used in TCM. 

Pangolin are extensively used in TCM for various medicinal preparation. The species is on verge of extinction and may not survive more than few decades. 

Medicinal Practices Using Wild Animals 

This practice is widespread prevalent including in India but unlike TCM the impact is local and subject to legal action if discovered. Incredible number of life forms are subjected to torture and killing for their parts having medicinal value which is usually not verified.  Most of the practices are now losing ground since the restrictions and unavailability are discouraging. 

Organized poaching is resulting in extermination of many species on Earth and the maximum blame is accorded to TCM.