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Rhino, tiger and snow leopard DNA found in Chinese medicines

More should be done to stop the use of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicines, with snow leopard, tiger and rhinoceros DNA still being found in remedies, according to a leading University of Adelaide pathologist.

In an article published in the journal¬†Forensic Science Medicine and Pathology, Professor Roger Byard, from the University’s School of Medicine, has shown that traditional Chinese medicine has been identified as a significant driver in the illicit global wildlife trade. Furthermore, most of the policing surrounding the illegal trade is associated with species collection; the use of animal products in medicines is often overlooked.

“Rhinoceros horn is used to “cure” disorders ranging from cerebral haemorrhage to AIDS, selling for as much as US$50,000 per kilogram; the powdered bones of tigers and mole rats are used to treat arthritis; shell extracts of freshwater turtles are used to treat cancer; dried geckos are used as an aphrodisiac; monkey skeletons are used to treat general pain; and moon bears are milked for their bile through catheters in order to provide people with a treatment for digestive illnesses,” says Professor Byard.

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