Dr. Lixing Lao holds a microphone as he addresses a room of people behind the camera. Four panelists sit behind him.
Dr. Lixing Lao moderates a panel at the 2nd Conference for Wildlife Protection in TCM meeting in Mineola, New York.

[Mineola, New York, April 19] – Last week, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, researchers, educators, and distributors from around the world gathered to launch a new initiative to preserve global biodiversity by committing themselves to abstain from using endangered species in their healing practices.

The Coalition for Wildlife Protection in TCM was launched at a meeting at the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Mineola on April 14.

Participants discussed how to promote ethical and environmentally friendly approaches to healing, and specifically how to harness the rich heritage of TCM while prioritizing the conservation of endangered species.

Presentations focused on synthetic, herbal, or sustainable alternatives to products such as pangolin scales, bear bile, tiger bone, or rhino horn, used in TCM to treat a wide variety of ailments including cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

“The formal launch of The Coalition for Wildlife Protection in TCM, met with broad support from preeminent leaders, demonstrates the evolution of Traditional Chinese Medicine towards sustainability,” said Dr. Yemeng Chen, president of the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and co-chair of the Coalition.

“As practitioners, by aligning our practices with principles of conservation and respect for biodiversity, we not only safeguard endangered species but also honor the ancient wisdom of TCM.”

While TCM has faced widespread criticism for its role in the decline of animal populations including pangolins, rhinos, and tigers, there has been little recognition of the positive role that many influential TCM leaders have played in protecting wildlife over the past 30 years.

Among them is Lixin Huang, former President of American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, who has testified before Congress and spoke at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) 14th CoP in 2007 on behalf of tigers, in a successful effort to quash an attempt by tiger farm owners and allies to reopen the trade in tiger bone in China.

Dr. Lixin Huang stands at a podium at the front of a room as she addresses people during a meeting.
Lixin Huang speaks at the Coalition for Wildlife Protection in TCM launch meeting in Mineola, New York.

Their ranks also include Dr. Lixing Lao, president of Virginia University of Integrative Medicine and co-chair of the Coalition, who hosted a 2018 conference in Hong Kong focused on the urgent need to protect pangolins, as then director of Hong Kong University’s School of Chinese Medicine.

Practitioners and academics across Asia, Europe, and North America have also conducted years of research dedicated to finding and developing sustainable, often plant-based, alternatives to endangered wildlife products. That includes researchers in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Despite these efforts, shops in mainland China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries still illegally sell pangolin scales, rhino horn, and tiger bone for the right price. Illegitimate practitioners still prescribe such ingredients, and there is a market for legally produced patented medicines produced in designated hospitals in China that still contain pangolin scales, despite pangolins’ status as CITES Appendix I-listed species and their 2020 domestic designation as Class I protected species in China. It is also true that in the not-so-distant past, standard TCM practice and teaching used these endangered species in healing, and for some endangered species still does.

Nevertheless, over the past couple of decades, as laws were enacted and overexploitation (caused in part by greater demand from a growing population of TCM users) demonstrably impacted numerous species, practitioners have embraced alternatives.

The people driving the current use of endangered species are often not the legitimate and law-abiding global TCM community, but instead a group of traffickers, traders, farm owners, pharmaceutical companies, non-law-abiding practitioners, and other commercial interest parties positioned to profit from the sale of endangered species. By claiming the name of TCM and the support of that community, they’ve severely damaged the global reputation of TCM, participants at the conference argued.

“As TCM practitioners, we have to speak out, we have to voice and let the public hear that we are against the use of endangered species,” said Dr. Lao. “It’s not part of TCM practice. We emphasize the harmony between humans and nature. Environmental protection is our principle.”

Moving forward, the coalition will continue to foster dialogue, collaboration, and education within the TCM community, advocating for ethical practices that uphold the principles of sustainability and respect for all living beings.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact: Jenniffer Wu, Secretary, wildlifeprotectionintcm@gmail.com

About the Coalition: The Coalition for Wildlife Protection in TCM is a network of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and distributors who do not use endangered wildlife [animal] products in their medicinal practice. This initiative is the first of its kind by the TCM community. In becoming a member of the Coalition, organizations and individuals commit themselves and their organizations to a sustainable, non-wildlife, environmentally friendly practice of TCM. www.wildlifeprotectionintcm.com


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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too. 

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