July 18, 2017

Traditional Healers in Malaysia take a Stand against the Use of Animal Parts

Traditional Healers in Malaysia take a Stand against the Use of Animal Parts

Bear bile is widely touted as a substance with almost miraculous curative properties. Photo Credit: TRAFFIC

Numerous endangered animals in Malaysia continue to be poached and killed for the silliest of reason: millions of people around the region continue to persist in the belief that the parts of rare and “exotic” animals have curative properties.

And so rhinos are killed mercilessly for their horns to cure cancer and other diseases. Tigers are poached for their bones so their bones can be ground up and used as curatives for kidney and liver problems or arthritis. Pangolins have been driven to the edge of extinction because their scales are used in traditional medicine to treat malarial fever, deafness or demonic possession. Sun bears are condemned to a life of misery so that their bile could be harvested to treat a variety of ailments. Needless to say, none of these body parts possess the magical curative properties attributed to them.

A Bornean sun bear, newly rescued from a “bear farm,” gazes through the bars of its cage. Photo Credit: We Animals Project

But here now comes some good news: 46 members of the Federation of Chinese Physicians and Medicine Dealers Associations of Malaysia (FCPMDAM) have joined forces with the anti-wildlife trafficking watchdog TRAFFIC to fight wildlife crimes in the country. The federation’s healers have agreed, by signing a pledge, to promote herbal and other alternatives to bear bile in traditional medicine.

“It is the responsibility of each of us to cherish and protect wild resources,” the federation’s President Ting Ka Hua said. “Chinese medicine practitioners and retailers should choose the legitimately produced medicines, pay attention to the contents of the products, do not buy medicinal ingredients of unknown provenance, and consciously resist illegal items.”

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are duty-bound, he said, to “correct unfounded and inaccurate concepts of the use of wildlife in traditional medicine.” He added: “Under the leadership of the Federation, we will drive support for the effort to end the use of illegal and endangered wildlife products in traditional medicine, within the Malaysian Chinese Traditional Medicine community, while maintaining the highest, safest and most reliable services.”

Kudos to members of the federation for taking a stance against the use of wild animals like bears in traditional medicine. “The TCM community of practitioners and users in Malaysia can be one of the strongest allies to ending illegal wildlife trade, and we are very glad to be partnering with Malaysia’s largest TCM community,” noted Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “The good news is that effective substitutes for bear-based products are available and being used worldwide and it’s important for the Malaysian community to know of these alternatives and work towards incorporating them into practice.”

We should all be pleased by this development.

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