Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Medicine Goes Wild

Medicine is as you know, a miracle in the history of humanity. Some may say that the human body can naturally heal itself or be healed by natural plant based nutrition without the need of pharmaceutical man-made medications, whereas others would consider medicine as ‘life-saver’, sometimes literally meaning it and other times just in reference to getting rid of a nasty cold that’s been getting you down. As most medicines are made from chemical substances or specifically modified bacteria, large quantities of animals are killed or harvested from each year around the world for their use in traditional medicines.

Countries in parts of Asia such as China, most commonly use animal remnants in their traditional medicines which are believed to have miraculous healing and nutritional properties, selling for substantial amounts of money in stores as well as popularly on the Black Market. Animals that are commonly used in traditional medicines are tigers, leopards, sharks, saiga antelope, elephants, rhinoceros, pangolins, tortoises, seahorses, musk deer, as well as 7 of the 8 species of bear. (10 Debated Acts of Animal Cruelty 2010)

For example, tigers are used for their bones to make medicines that are claimed to help arthritis and joint pains. There is some speculation that the tiger conservation crisis between 1980 and 1990 has been heavily contributed to by the cause of tiger bones being used for their use in traditional medicine as well as for their fur for ‘luxury’ materials. At the moment there are around 6,00 tigers in the wild and are now classified as being an endangered species by the World Conservation Union Red, on the Red List of Threatened Species (Traditional Chinese Medicine And Endangered Animals 2007). Is there a real need to keep killing beautiful tigers for their arthritis benefitting bones that can easily be replaced by other medicines that are made from cruelty free resources such as plants and other medicinal chemical substances?

20080311-kids_tigercons4_2 wwf

Another example is the Black Bear being harvested for their bile which is believed to be bale to treat illnesses and injuries like headaches and liver problems. There are currently 200 bear farms that are running which specifically created for farming these Black Bears, keeping them in tiny cages and painfully being harvested through catheters for their bile which sometimes kills them from the pain. It is disheartening to know that there are plenty of substitutes made in place of bear bile, however, there is still a huge demand for the natural bear bile that is contributing to the thousands of killed bears causing them to also be endangered and maybe one day get to limiting numbers. Further information can be sourced from:


M. Silverberg/TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, via Associated PressA caged cub at a bear bile farm in Hanoi, Vietnam.

It begs the question on whether this is cruelty to animals or is it an issue where its benefits would cause us to put our health above the wellbeing of these innocent animal’s lives.


Animals Asia 2014, Five Things You Need To Know About Bear Bile Farming,

10 Debated Acts of Animal Cruelty 2010, Animals in Medicine,


The New York Times 2012, Finally, Outrage In China Against Bear Farming,

Traditional Chinese Medicine And Endangered Animals 2007, Tiger/Black Bear,


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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