March 31, 1998 in Nation/World

Bill Outlaws Tiger, Rhino Products

Associated Press
 

The sale of products containing any body part from a tiger or rhinoceros would be prohibited in the United States under legislation the House passed Monday.

The bill, passed by voice vote, also outlaws the import or export of any such product.

Violators would be fined a maximum of $25,000 and imprisoned for up to a year. Inspectors would be allowed to seize any items labeled as containing tiger or rhino parts without performing DNA testing to prove their source.

The House also passed by voice vote a bill that would renew through 2004 a 1994 law authorizing grants to foreign governments and nonprofit groups this year to help conservation programs.

Tigers and rhino are protected under U.S. law and by international treaty, but the illegal trade in animal parts in Asia and Africa continues, lawmakers said.

Poaching and habitat destruction have reduced the worldwide rhino population from 1 million at the beginning of the 20th century to 65,000 in 1970 to about 11,000 today. The number of tigers has fallen from 100,000 to 5,000 over the same period.

The animals are killed for their fur and body parts, which are used in traditional medicine to treat such maladies as headaches, fever, rheumatism, convulsions, heart conditions and problems with kidneys and livers.

“Rhino horn is still consumed as a pain medication in powdered form in China, Taiwan and Korea,” said a House report. “And it is used as decorative handles for ceremonial daggers in Yemen.”

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