Demand for animal parts for use in medicines is a leading cause of species endangerment. Traditional Asian medicines use parts of many animals, everything from rhino horns to tiger bones, eyes, teeth, and penises.
The use of animal parts in traditional medicines was not a serious problem until the Asian population began to grow so large. Today, China alone has 1.2 billion people.
Some conservation organizations have conducted ad campaigns aimed at reducing demand for medicines containing animal parts. However, it is very difficult to change the beliefs of people who have been using these to cure disease for 2,000 years.
Many Asians do not have access to Western medicine and have little choice but to use their traditional medicine.
This medicine is an important part of their cultural identity, and Asians may resent foreigners trying to influence their beliefs and practices. They often view international pressure as insulting.
Imagine if the world’s 750 million Hindus, who believe that cows are sacred, started an ad campaign in the United States or in Argentina encouraging people to stop eating beef!