Posts Tagged With: Korea

The History of Rhino Poaching

To think an animal’s body part is worth its weight in gold is mind-blowing to say the least. So how did this lucrative practice begin? Who decided a rhinoceros horn is the key to solving all ailments?

17th century rhino horn cups

17th century Chinese cups carved from rhino horn

In Greek mythology, rhino horns were said to possess the ability to purify water. The Persians from the 5th century BC used carved vessels from horn to detect poisoned liquids. This belief stuck and existed well into the 18th and 19th centuries among European royalty.

Between  100 BC and 200 AD during the Ming and Ching dynasties, the Chinese thought the same. They used the horn in carvings of plates, bowls and cups. The cups being especially prized to detect alkaloid poisoning, something that was treacherously common at the time.

dagger

Traditional Yemen dagger

Reports of Yemens’ use of the horn dates back to the 8th century. Although their fondness of horn is preferred in decorative use as opposed to medicinal. It is fashioned into ceremonial dagger handles known as jambiyas . This is a status symbol for young men. It epitomizes manhood. The quality of the horn was important because it possesses a translucent quality, that only improves with age.

The use of the horn for medicinal purposes was recorded as early as 1597, in the Chinese “Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu”.  In it there are mentions such as “the best horn is from a freshly killed male” and “pregnant women should not take horn as it will kill the foetus”. It also lists the many uses of horn ranging from stopping nightmares and curing possessions to curing headaches and dissolving phlegm.

rhino horn medicine

Chinese “medicine” made from horn

In earlier time it was not just the horn, but also blood, and urine used for medicine. This was a commonality of the Chinese, Burmese, Thai, and Nepalis.

In the early 1980s, it was even used as an aphrodisiac by the people of India. This myth probably stems from the fact that breeding pairs stay together for two to three days, and sometimes even weeks. Mating takes place several times a day and lasts for an hour or more at a time.

rhinos mating 2The earliest reports of horn trade (in addition to tortoise shell and ivory) were reported as leaving ancient East Africa for Arabia in 50 AD.

Throughout the history of trade, various countries have been involved: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Yemen, China, Hong Kong, Sumatra, Singapore, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa are the most prominent. Various efforts have been made in these countries to legalize and/or ban the trade as well.

What is the most interesting point in the history of the horn trade is that during times horn could be legally traded, illegal trade still flourished.

Thirty species of rhino once roamed the planet. Now  thousands of years later, there remain just five. Human greed, consumption and ignorance have cost the rhino. They are teetering on the brink of extinction. Will history teach us nothing?

rhino cave painting

Chauvet cave, France- rhino cave painting dating back 30,000 BP (before present time recordings).

Information obtained from TRAFFIC and Richard Ellis: Poaching for Traditional Chinese Medicine

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Candle in the Dark: Hope in China

China – the mere mention of the country sets animal lovers on edge. It’s no secret they bear a huge responsibility for the demand of horn and ivory, paving the destruction of rhinos and elephants, among other animals.

But there is reason to hope. The animal welfare movement is alive and well in China. The younger generation is aware, and becoming less tolerant of cruelty toward animals. With increasing attention from social media, animal protection issues are pushing to the public forefront.

chinese activists

Activists protest dog and cat meat industry.

The past couple of years, Chinese animal welfare advocates have

* banned the U.S. rodeo from entering Beijing
*demonstrated against the import of seal parts from Canada *
*ended barbaric live animal feeding in zoos
*prevented the construction of a foie gras factory
*rescued thousands of dogs and cats from the meat trade
*made stricter terms on harming endangered species(anyone who eats endangered species, or buys them for other purposes, is punishable by up to 10 years in jail)

In addition China is home to 50 million vegetarians and vegans, according to Peta.

Social media was responsible for alerting volunteers to intercept this truck filled with dogs bound for slaughter.

Social media was responsible for alerting volunteers to intercept this truck filled with dogs bound for slaughter.

The New York Times reports that revulsion at animal abuse is growing, and citizens have been taking matters into their own hands, rescuing dogs and cats from slaughter, and  banding together to lobby government for animal protection laws.

China has some laws protecting endangered species of wild animals, but no protection for other animals within the country.

A proposed draft of China’s first comprehensive animal welfare law, the China Animal Protection Law, was issued in September 2009, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. It has yet to become law.

Some of the organizations currently working in China, and with the government trying to change current laws are Animals Asia, Peta Asia, and Chinese Animal Protection Network.

According to Animals Asia, “After more than 20 years working in China, we know how fast things can change – and we know already from working with various government departments in Beijing and Sichuan Province, that there is definitely a growing recognition and sympathy towards the issue of animal welfare generally which did not exist 10 years ago.”

Yao Ming's shark protection campaign helped reduce fin demand by 90%

Yao Ming’s shark protection campaign helped reduce fin demand by 90%

No doubt that social media and celebrity endorsements are helping the movement along. Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, and pop singer Yu Kewei, artist Ai Weiwei, and actress Sun Li are actively campaigning against bear bile farms, rhino horn and elephant tusk use, and other endangered species slaughter.

China has lagged behind the most progressive nations in animal protection legislation for more than 180 years. But their time is coming. Realistically it has been and will continue to be slow, as younger generations push back against the older generation, more set in their ways.

 As a  Korean animal rights activist Sung Su Kim puts it:

“Culture has often been used as an excuse to turn away from suffering, and people in both Asia and the West often use cultural relativism to soothe their conscience for doing nothing”.

“Surely we want to regard various practices in our history (such as slavery and cannibalism) as something to be rid of rather than treat them as ‘culture’ and demand respect accordingly.”

jacki rhino ad

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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