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Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine Hardcover – May 27, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1559635325 ISBN-10: 1559635320 Edition: 1st

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Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine + Black Market: Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia + Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (May 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559635320
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559635325
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,568,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) frequently relies on medicines created from the body parts of animals that are rumored to have curative properties. Sea horses, for example, when consumed in large quantities, are alleged to cure everything from asthma to impotency. A worldwide interest in alternative medicine and the ease of international commerce have put dozens of species worldwide—such as American bears and African rhinos—at risk. The problem is serious, which makes it all the more unfortunate that veteran nature writer Ellis (The Empty Ocean) dilutes the issue by devoting so much space to other reasons why various species are on the verge of extinction. He also seems reluctant to blame TCM itself for creating the problem, especially given the lack of evidence of medical benefits for many of its practices. Ellis repeatedly puts forth the altruistic notion that if people only knew these remedies were obtained at the risk of other species' extinction, demand would decrease. Similarly, he suggests that making Viagra widely available will reduce the market for animal-based aphrodisiacs. Such optimism suggests that, while Ellis displays an exemplary knowledge of the animal kingdom, he has a few things left to learn about human nature. B&w photos. (June 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Ellis, a superb and prolific science writer, is an authority on marine life, which, as he documents so precisely in The Empty Ocean (2003), is in precipitous decline. He now presents a disturbing account of impending extinctions on land because of the ever-growing demand for animal parts, especially those of tigers and rhinos, by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. So many human-generated forces, from habitat destruction to pollution, are killing off species, it's especially bitter to see a venerable 3,000-year-old medical practice contributing to the catastrophe. Especially since, as Ellis reveals in this carefully researched report, many of the current claims associated with the medicinal value of tiger bones, rhino horn, and bear bile are spurious. But reality hasn't stopped the rising demand for these illegal substances, and as the populations of endangered animals rapidly decline, the profits to be made by poachers and smugglers rise. It's a complicated and urgent situation, and Ellis' meticulous and balanced report reveals the need for increased wildlife protection and a renewed assault on the trafficking in animal parts. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Richard Ellis has written sixteen books on ecology and extinction and is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural history: his Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction Of Wildlife For Traditional Chinese Medicine presents a damning expose of the tortures and horrors animals experience in the trade for animal parts in traditional Chinese medicine. There's a large list of endangered animals which are deemed essential ingredients in Chinese potions: Richard Ellis discusses the dilemma and explores how the animals may be protected.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Nemati on November 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a pretty decent book. It's very informative. I learned a lot I didn't know about the wildlife trade.

It just seems like this book could have been edited a lot better. Some chapters are pretty gripping; others feel overly long and detailed. I particularly struggled through the rhino horn chapter. Ellis sometimes delves too deeply into the historical significance of animal symbols and he gets a bit too tangential in certain parts.

The other way it could be improved is to add some more emotional punch to some chapters. Ellis is a journalist and he tries to mostly remain objective throughout, refusing to outwardly condemn Traditional Chinese Medicine and much of its ludicrous claims. Toward the end of the book, Ellis finally reveals his views on preserving endangered species. It's clear he is more toward the conservationist standpoint (similar to E.O. Wilson) rather than the welfarist standpoint (though he does have some sympathies at least toward the bears used for TCM). Despite the fact he's done an awful lot of research and cares deeply for the subject, his writing is mostly detached through much of the book. I believe that had he decided to interject his opinions more vocally, the book would have been a lot more enjoyable.

I think the book is still worth reading despite being some slow chapters. You will learn a lot about wildlife trafficking, some of the proposed solutions to helping animals, and at the very least see the dire straits of the animals drawn to the brink of extinction.
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6 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Minagpa on January 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There are no "important" ingredients of any kind within the field of Traditional Chinese herbal medicine that are of animal origin. There are only about 20 animal substances found in the Chinese materia medica, out of approximately 450 more commonly used substances. Such books paint a VERY unrealistic and derogatory view of a powerful and effective medicine, that is TCM. I have been practicing Traditional Chinese herbal medicine daily for nearly fifteen years, and have never once used (or come across anyone else using) a single endangered species ingredient. I do applaud any efforts towards conservation of nature. Now, to correct the various ignorant reviewers, let me explain the actual situation. It is the most uneducated and superstitious blue-color Chinese who purchase such animal products absolutely OUTSIDE of the advice of a TCM doctor. Therefore, do not blame TCM for something that is entirely a Chinese social problem and not a classical medical problem. Superstition is the enemy here, not Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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