THE BONE TRADE
The bone trade discussed here is associated with illegal and unethical activities, exploiting vulnerable species like tigers and lions instead of using them sustainably to preserve them for future generations.
It's worth noting that bones play a crucial role in our bodies' functioning, enabling us to perform everyday activities such as walking, running, and sitting upright. Bones have diverse applications, including research, education, and decoration. The bone trade involves the buying and selling of bones, typically for medical, scientific, or cultural purposes.
In some cultures, bones are spiritually or religiously significant and used in traditional healing practices or artistic crafts such as carving and sculpture.
However, the bone trade discussed here is associated with illegal and unethical activities, exploiting vulnerable species like tigers and lions instead of using them sustainably to preserve them for future generations. Bones are ground into a powder and compressed into blocks, which are then mixed and soaked in rice wine for up to 8 years. Consumers believe that this "bone wine" helps with arthritis, paralysis, and serves as an aphrodisiac. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims; it is purely a cultural belief.
The lion bone trade is a relatively new revenue source for breeders and farmers and has emerged because lion bones are now used as a substitute for tiger bones in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In South Africa, some lion farms may only breed lions to export the carcasses to Eastern countries. The problem arises when the lions are kept in unregulated and inhumane conditions and that is why in 2019, the NSPCA took the government to court, and the bone trade was deemed illegal.
The inhumane conditions referenced here are those that disregard approved norms and standards, prioritizing cost-cutting over proper animal care. Lions are kept in small enclosures, and sometimes there is insufficient space for them to lie down. Cubs are removed from their mothers two days after birth to ensure that the female is ready to mate again within a few days. In the wild, females have a litter of cubs every 1-2 years. However, some breeding farms remove cubs and can have up to three litters per year, which prevents the mother's body from healing properly between pregnancies. The cubs are fed cow's milk, which does not provide them with the necessary nutrition, leading to developmental issues like crooked paws and arched backs.
Educating people about the current situation with lions and encouraging them to report any instances of animal cruelty is crucial. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all animals, including lions, are kept in humane conditions. With the increasing human encroachment on their habitats, most animals are now forced to live behind fences, making it all the more important to act as responsible keepers.