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

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"What a ride! "Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn" takes you on a road trip through horror and sorrow but leaves you infused with hope. Richard Ellis delivers a heart-achingly accurate account of the recent history of tigers, rhinos, and bears, and explains how much of their fate along with the fates of other rare animals rests in the hands of the growing black market for medicine made from their parts. While Ellis spares nothing in this landmark account of the wildlife trade, he also guides us toward what must be done to curtail it."--Sy Montgomery "author of "Spell of the Tiger" and "Search for the Golden Moon Bear" ""

"A minutely researched, powerful, passionate and brave book. That we are driving other species to extinction because we compete with them for space, or eat them (as "bush meat") is bad enough, but that we kill endangered animals in vast numbers to provide "medicinals" of no therapeutic value is heartbreaking. Richard Ellis shows us what we must do to stop this needless destruction."--Oliver Sacks "M.D., author of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and "An Anthropologist on Mars" "

"With its focus on staying healthy as opposed to treating illness, traditional Asian medicine is often hailed as a natural and friendly alternative to western therapies. In "Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn," Richard Ellis shows just how destructive and unsustainable many of these practices are."--Mark Norell "American Museum of Natural History, co-author of "Unearthing the Dragon" "

"To write a book such as "Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn" is a formidable undertaking. You must accumulate thousands of facts and spare no detail, no matter how terrible. It is always easier to write a piece of fluff and leave everybody smiling. But then, the horrors of poaching would continue unchallenged like as tent caterpillars consuming an apple orchard, our species mindlessly consumes the others of the earth. At present, the most significant hope for our planet may be knowledge, and Richard Ellis has done a heroic job in providing a large measure of that."--Elizabeth Marshall Thomas "author of "The Tribe of Tiger," "The Hidden Life of Dogs," and "Reindeer Moon" ""

About the Author

RICHARD ELLIS is the author of many books including The Empty Ocean (Island Press, 2003), see page 22, and No Turning Back (Harper Collins, 2004). Ellis is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, and a world-renowned artist.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.2 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in your horn? 16 Feb. 2017
By Newton Ooi - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Growing up in the Chinese culture, I was taught to be proud of everything in my culture and history. I was then and always have been... until I read this book. I have encountered the occasional rhino horn or tiger claw when visiting family and friends in East Asia, but the full impact of this "industry" only dawned on me after reading this book. The author, Richard Ellis, is a famed naturalist and author of books about our natural world, past and present. I have read other works by Dr. Ellis before, but this is the first that really brought home the impact that humans have on their surroundings.

Basically, the book examines the international trade in rare animal parts for medicinal purposes. These rare animals include various species of big cats, rhinos and other large mammals. The parts that are traded literally cover the entire animal, from the sexual organs to the bile, claws, horns, teeth, fur, eyes, etc. Though the book title specifies Chinese medicine, the destination for these animal parts also include Korea, Japan and other cultures around the Pacific Rim. The overall effect of this trade is the systematic destruction of several dozen species of mammals through illegal hunting, poisoning, and even the use of landmines! Poverty, or more specifically, income inequality drives the trade. The final destination of the animal parts are usually wealthy businessmen around the world. The suppliers are the poorest villagers in the Third World who do the hunting, trapping, and smuggling across borders.

The book does end on a good note as the author talks about the rising replacement of the rare animal parts with synthetics that are mass produced at a fraction of the price of the natural goods.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tad dry and tangential, but still an informative and worthwhile call for action 27 Nov. 2009
By S. Nemati - Published on
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.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discusses the dilemma and explores how the animals may be protected 5 Dec. 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
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.
8 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Dose of Reality 26 Jan. 2009
By Minagpa - Published on
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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