Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

New report says Beijing is promoting industry development along with its flagship Belt and Road Initiative.

The expansion of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with the support of Beijing, in many African countries, threatens the future of some of the world’s most endangered species, a new report warned.

The growth of the TCM market, coupled with the perception of Africa as a potential source of TCM ingredients, is a “precondition for disaster for some endangered animal species, such as leopards, pangolins and rhinos”, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which investigates wildlife and environmental crime, said in the report published Wednesday.

China has promoted TCM with its flagship Belt and Road Initiative, which is developing road, rail and other major infrastructure projects across Africa. While most treatments are plant-based, the industry’s demand is blamed for pushing animals, including pangolins and rhinos, to the brink of extinction.

“Ultimately, the unbridled growth of TCM poses a serious threat to the biodiversity that occurs in many African countries, all in the name of short-term gains,” Ceres Kam, EIA Wildlife Campaigner, said in a statement.

“Any use of endangered species in TCM could potentially stimulate further demand, encourage wildlife crime and ultimately lead to overexploitation.”

The report, Lethal Remedy: How the promotion of some traditional Chinese medicine in Africa poses a major threat to endangered wildlife, says TCM products have never been more accessible in Africa, with TCM companies and clinics operating in countries across the continent established and Beijing has taken up promotional activities in line with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said some retailers were looking for complete supply chains from source to sales, and encouraged tighter oversight of TCM as well as government action to prevent the use of endangered wildlife in its products.

“We understand that traditional medicine is an integral part of many cultures and plays an important role in healthcare in Africa and beyond,” Kam said.

“Our very real concern is that such a large expansion of TCM in Africa, as is happening under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, will have the effect of drastically increasing the demand for treatments containing game and in turn will cause more species to threaten or become extinct. ”

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