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Publications archive - Biodiversity


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Healthy people - healthy wildlife

Proceedings of the second Australian Symposium on traditional medicine and wildlife conservation
Melbourne Australia, March 1999

The Current Situation in China on the Use of Endangered Species in Chinese Medicine

Prof. Tzi Chiang Lin
National President
Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Societies of Australia Inc.

Traditional Chinese medicine goes back to ancient times. Medical practitioners have been using animals and plants over thousands of years in their clinical practice. Involving more than just great contributions to the Chinese nation, it represents an important chapter to the annals of Oriental civilisation. It’s unique theories and therapeutic effects have attracted the attention of the world.

Chinese medication is chiefly composed of three types, ie plants, animals and mineral sources. Some are from human tissues or excretions. According to the Chinese materia medica works and literatures, more than 5,000 medicinal substances have been recorded. For example, The Great Chinese Medication Dictionary (1985) lists a total of 5,767 Chinese medicines. Of these, 4,770 are derived from plant material, 740 are derived from animal material and 80 are derived from minerals. The Chinese Pharmaceutics Code - Part One (1995) lists 522 Chinese medications.

Clinical experience and research have shown that Chinese medicine can effectively treat many diseases, in particular if these herbs are prescribed in the formulae according to Chinese medical theories. Chinese Pharmaceutic Code - Part One (1995), listed 395 effective Chinese herbal preparations. For instance, some types of cancer, Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), chronic Asthma, Hepatitis A, B, and C can be treated by Chinese medication with excellent results.

It has been also evident that some precious species, animals or plants, CAN TREAT or even cure some complicated disorders and emergency conditions, some of which modern Western medicine has proved ineffective. For example, rhinoceros horn can effectively control the secondary fever and inflammation induced by chemotherapy in acute leukemia. Tiger-bone can enhance the healing of fractured bone. Shexiang Baoxin Wan (musk pill for coronary heart diseases) is very popular in the treatment of heart attack. The result can match (if not better) the performance of Anginine and with little side effects. Although the exact mechanism of action is not clear in the context of western science, the Chinese theories have proved to be quite adequate.

It has been a long time since the Chinese people started to cultivate and domesticate wild herbs and animals to satisfy the demand in the amounts needed and allowing the preservation of many precious species. For example, Emergency Management, (edited by Mr. Sei Yu in 48A.C). describes how to plant ginseng in the farm. At the moment, practically all the ginseng is farm produced.

In China, the Government has consistently been highlighting the protection of environment and wildlife. As early as the 1950s, the Chinese Government realised the importance of protecting its wildlife source.

According to the available data, the protection of endangered wildlife in China includes three parts:

Alternative Medication to Wildlife Species

Based on the principles of protecting and using with consideration of the limited source of precious species, the Government has introduced various research projects: the alternative medication to the wildlife species. Some examples are as follows:

It is reasonable to believe that the development in gene-engineering technology will find vast application in the protection of endangered wildlife species too.

At the moment, more than 400 popular Chinese medications are from domestic sources. The land size is 400,000 hectares for domestic production. The output is 400,000–500,000 tons, or 40 % of the annual required amounts.

Introduce a Legislation System

China addressed the source protective and managing regulation on wildlife animals in 1987.

The Act became valid in 1988 and contains five chapters and 42 items. The Act empathises that using wildlife medication must follow the protection. Any violation will be punished with a fine or jail sentence. For example, tiger hunting is punishable with a death sentence.

In 1993, the Government addressed the decision forbidding any type of trade (including manufacture and business function) of tiger-bone or rhinoceros horn. Although this decision does not list detailed items regarding other endangered species, the source protective and managing regulation on wildlife medication (1987), plus the Act for wildlife animals protection, will control these endangered species from the source. As a result, in the current Chinese medication market, a lot of products bearing the name of 'tiger bone' (ie tiger bone wine or plaster), do not contain real tiger bone. These are only named by manufacturers to follow the traditional prescription name.

In the near future, China will introduce the Administration Regulation for import and export of wildlife species. Meanwhile, the war against the wildlife smugglers continues.

An Education Agenda

The relevant education agenda on wildlife protection was nationally introduced through the media, schools and legal practice. Now, more and more Chinese understand and realise the importance of protecting wildlife animals, and learn to abide by the laws.

It appears the Chinese Government intends to follow the Washington Treaty of Protection of Wildlife. However, just like the 'drug' problem in Australia, the protection of the endangered wildlife species will be a long-term task in China.

In Australia, most herbs are imported from China. The Commonwealth Government forbids any medication which contains or claims to contain endangered species. Through our excellent work, effective international co-operation and strong Government support, protecting wildlife will be a great achievement in Australia.


Chinese Pharmaceutic Code. 1985; 1995.

The Great Chinese Medication Dictionary. 1985.

News report. 15 March 1999. China Central TV Station. Sen Zhong Xiang. 1998. (Director, Market Administration Unit, National Administration of Chinese Medicine and Medication, China)