How popular is acupuncture in China

How traditional Chinese medicine endangers animal species

One such example are pangolins, which were poached millions of times between 2000 and 2013. The small mammals that feed on ants are coveted for their scales. These are ground into powder or made into a paste that is said to help with milk production, arthritis, and other ailments. Tigers and rhinos have also suffered great losses because, according to TCM, their bones and horns have healing powers. There is hardly any scientific evidence for the effectiveness of such healing methods, even if patients may experience an improvement in some cases due to the placebo effect.

In addition, some animals are systematically tortured in favor of TCM products. Sun bears and collar bears are either captured in the wild or bred in captivity to extract bile from them. The yellow fluid from the gallbladder is said to help with liver problems and other ailments. For the extraction, the bears are usually locked in small cages and given a permanent catheter that can rust or otherwise erode.


In light of the poaching crisis, many countries have banned the capturing and killing of numerous animals used in TCM. According to the Washington Convention on Endangered Species, the commercial trade in some of these animals or their body parts is prohibited or permitted only to a limited extent. Despite legal regulations, poaching is still a problem, and the trade in wild animals - not only, but also for traditional Chinese medicine - is now taking place on a dangerous but thriving black market, where goods worth billions of euros every year Dollar is traded.