Heal our Planet Earth

 

 

Heal Our Planet Earth

 

 

Reuters Photo

 

Undercover Operations

 

 

 

 

CHINATOWN JOURNAL

October 1995

 

     If the stereotyped Halloween witch were to stumble into where Anthony Marr now found himself, she would be like the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store. In the glassed-in display shelves were trays upon trays and jars upon jars of dried this and that - all once alive, or parts of something once alive. There were dried mushrooms of different species, some as large as dinner plates.  There were dried stems and roots and seeds and fruits, mostly brown or black, of medicinal plants unidentifiable to the casual eye.  There were dried animals galore - sea cucumbers, sea horses, lizards, deer musk glands, seal penises, shark fins, swallows' nests, thin slices of antlers still in velvet. And these were just what were above the counter. 

     It was a store called Wei Hai on Pender street near Main, the one with the big yellow awning in front - one of about two dozen traditional Chinese pharmacies amidst the restaurants and groceries and curio shops and book stores of Vancouver's historical and bustling Chinatown.

     Unsavory as some of the animal parts were, Anthony Marr's quarry lay deeper in the store.  There was a section where the so-called Patent Tradition Chinese Medicines were displayed.  These were highly packaged items, usually pills in bottles, and bottles in glossy and brightly coloured paper boxes.

 

 

 

 

     Anthony moved slowly, with stops here and there, towards the back of the store, using his peripheral vision to monitor the three store clerks behind the counters.  There was no other customer in the store, and this made him somewhat uncomfortable.  As he pretended interest in a bank of trays containing different kinds and grades of gin seng, he glanced out of the store across the busy street, and saw the large beta-cam on a tripod aimed straight at him, and the giant of a bearded cameraman crouching behind it, and the blonde woman reporter standing beside it, all standing out like sore thumbs amidst the smaller, dark-haired people milling around them, looking curiously at them, then at me. Fortunately, up to this point, the three store clerks hadn't shown signs of having noticed the anomaly across the street.

     “If you can hear me, raise your hand,” Anthony murmured into the conceal mike under his lapel, and saw the reporter do just that.

     This would be the third time he showed his face on television, but the first time on national TV. This should be the one to make the difference on the federal government level.   He glanced at the three store clerks to see if there was any sign of recognition or suspicion, but they seemed to just be going about their business, not that they had yet taken a close look at him, which they soon would.

     Anthony moved deeper towards the back of the store and began scanning as nonchalantly as possible the multi-coloured paper boxes lined up row upon row, all bearing Chinese writings and pictorial designs.  There were bear bile pills, crocodile bile pills, seal penis pills, dog penis pills, deer musk pills, rhino skin pills, pangolin pills, but he had no need to look much further to find what he was looking for.  On one of the higher shelves sat a large collection of boxes, about ten assortments in total, all bearing different renditions of the same majestic animal, and all sporting the beautiful Chinese character in various calligraphic styles, pronounced in Mandarin as “hu”, and in Cantonese as “fu” - tiger.

     He reached up and took down a few different boxes and began checking the ingredients lists printed on their backs.  Most listed about a dozen ingredients each, all by their Latin and Chinese names, mostly medicinal plants that seemed to vary from brand to brand, but the one thing in common was in the list of contents, the Latin name “Ossis Tigris” - tiger bone. Its listed concentrations ranged from 6% to 24% from brand to brand. Price - $8 for the box with 6%, and $22 for the one listing 24%.

     He was looking at the boxes, mostly green or amber, but what he saw was red.  Over the years, he'd been watching TV wildlife documentaries by the score, often in Caucasian company.  Whenever the subject matter was the tiger or rhino or elephant or bear, especially the tiger, the concluding messages were usually one and the same, that these magnificent beasts were going down due largely to the Oriental, largely Chinese, use of their body parts for medicine.  His sentiments at those times were disgust, outrage, embarrassment and shame.  At those times, he could feel his friends trying very hard not to look at him, not to say anything remotely anti-Chinese, when he knew that each and every one of them, like him, were about to explode.  And the harder they tried, the worse it made him feel. 

     Finally, at the end of a National Geographic program about tigers in 1994, he said to those present, “Look at me. Am I not Chinese?  Spit it out.”

     After still another few long seconds of uncomfortable silence, his friend Grant finally abided, “Alright, no offence to you personally, Tony, but this Chinese tradition is obscene!  It doesn’t heal me of anything; it just makes me sick!”  A significant pause.  “Well?  Does this make you feel better?”

     “You racist bastard!” mock-fumed Anthony.  Then, seriously, “Yeah, man, that’s better.  Yes, it is obscene.  So how do we stop it?”

     “You answered your own question before you posed it,” said Grant.  “I’m a Whitey, see? I don't want to be branded a racist, which I know I will if I as much as lifted a finger, especially the middle one.”

     Then, almost inexorably, all eyes fell on Anthony, and stayed there. After looking at them one by one in turn, he returned his gaze to Grant and said, mock-seriously, “Okay, you have a point there, but keep it in your pants.” Then, seriously, “I do agree with you, Grant. It does take a Chinese person to do it, and you’re looking at him.”

     One of the clerks moved towards him and said, in Cantonese – the prevalent dialect in most North American Chinatowns – “Can I help you with something?”

     It was a woman in her 30s, who now was looking point blank at his face, thin smile unwavering.

     “Yes, maybe,” he answered, “I'm looking for some tiger bone medicine for my father, and a bear gall bladder for my mother.  I see you have some tiger bone medicines here, but do you have any bear gall bladders?”

     The woman looked at once nervous, her smile evaporated and her eyes shifted involuntarily until they returned to his face again.  “Just a moment,” she said, then slipped through a door in the back wall. 

     Anthony returned to looking at the tiger bone medicines in his hands, but he could sense a sudden tenseness that had overtaken the two remaining clerks behind the counters.  Now they were unabashedly scrutinizing him, and still, there was no sign of recognition.

     Momentarily, the door squeaked open again and a large man emerged, followed by the woman.  He was of about the same height as Anthony's 5’9” – medium tall for the Chinese - but twice in girth.

     “I can outrun him for sure, and can probably kick faster, but I'd better not engage him in a wrestling match,” Anthony thought.

     Since the man was facing the front of the store, he was in line of sight of the TV beta-cam and the reporter across the street, but his attention was concentrated on Anthony, who took a quick step towards the back and took down another box of tiger bone medicine, thus effectively turning the man and the woman away from the front.

     “So, you want to buy a bear gall bladder?”  The man was looking Anthony up and down, away from his face and back again.

     To counteract the proverbial Oriental inscrutability of his opponent, Anthony invoked his own. “Maybe more than one, depending on the price,” he said steadily. 

     “What's your name?”

     “Just call me Mr. Lee,” he said without a blink.  Extending his hand, he added, “and you're Mr….”

     The man ignored him.  “Where're you from?”

     “Hong Kong.”

     “How long here for?”

     “About three years.”

     “Where did you get your gall bladders from before?”

     “I hunted.”

     “It's illegal to take the gall bladder in BC.  Legal in Quebec, but not here.”

     “So it's illegal,” said Anthony with a shrug.  “It's also illegal to buy or sell them.”

     “So why do you stop hunting?”

     “Who says I have? It’s just too much work.  Too messy.  And lately, too much heat.”

     “What do you mean ‘too much heat’?”

     “Too much talk about gall bladders.  People are getting upset.”  He shifted on his feet to a new stance.  “Look.  Are you doing business or are we just going to stand and talk all day?”

     “Show me your driver's license.”

     “What are you?  Some kind of traffic cop?  No.  I don't carry my driver's license around when I shop for bear gall bladders.  I’m sure you understand.”

     The man frowned.  “Where do you live.  I'll deliver the bladders to you.”

     “Not so fast.  How much are they?”

     “One grand and up.”

     “Let's see them.”

     The man hesitated a moment, then brought out two fig shaped objects from his pocket, black, rock hard, one about the size of a thumb, the other that of a small pear.  “One grand and five grand.”

     Anthony took the larger one and brought it to his nose.  It was so completely dry it was almost odorless.  He pretended to raise it up closer to the light to see it better, but in fact to bring it to the beta-cam's attention.  “Nice, but too expensive.  I can get an even bigger one at less than half the price.”

     The man held out his hand and Anthony put the gall back into it. “Where's it from?” he asked.

     “A bear gall is a bear gall is a bear gall.”

     “Assuming first of all it’s a bear gall and not a cow gall or pig gall. But even if it is a bear gall, it could be from a local Black bear, or a Grizzly, or an Asiatic Black bear, and prices vary among them.”

     “Four grand.  Take it or leave it.”

     “I'll have to think about it.”

     “If you buy ten or more, I'll give you a good deal.”

     “How good?”

     “Three grand each, same size.”

     “Not good enough.”

     “You name your price.  I'll say yes or no.”

     “I'll buy this one for two thousand.  Bottom line.  After that, I'll talk volume.”

     “No.  If you change your mind, come back.  Meanwhile, excuse me.  I'm busy.”

     “Fine.  I don't have enough cash on me anyway.  I'll just buy these tiger medicines for now.”

     “As you wish.”  And with that, the man disappeared again through the door.

     Anthony sorted through the boxes in his hand, selected half a dozen and put the rest back on the shelf.  He paid for them at the counter, exited the store and j-walked across the busy street straight at the beta-cam.  Pulling one of the boxes from the bag, he brought it right up to the lens.

     “So, Anthony, tell me what you bought,” asked the reporter, sticking her own mike in his face.

     “Well, I bought, right off the shelf, six different boxes of Chinese patent medicines containing or purporting to contain tiger bone as an ingredient. This one I'm showing you,” he said, while rotating the box in front of the camera so that the ingredients list now faced the lens, “lists 24% tiger bone by weight.”

     He noticed a few pedestrians stopping in their tracks to gawk at him and what he had in his hands, and tried to ignore them.  “Did you get any shots of the bear gall bladder, by the way?” he asked.

     “We sure did,” boomed the cameraman, “and your whole conversation with the store owner, whatever you said.”

     “So, what did you talk about?” asked the reporter.

     “Basically, they have bear gall bladders for sale under the counter, origin undisclosed.  They want at least four thousand dollars for a big one, less by the dozen.”  Having been on TV before, he had learned to give sound bites, not long discourses.

     “So, what is the legal status of bear gall bladders?”

     “The legal status of bear gall bladders,” he began, having also learned to repeat the question before answering it, “depends on the country or province you're in. All the Asiatic bear species are endangered and importation of their body-parts is internationally illegal. In Canada, the law varies from province to province. In British Columbia and Manitoba, for example, bear gall bladders, even those taken from Canadian bears, are illegal to possess and to sell.  In Ontario, they are illegal to sell, but legal to possess.  In Quebec, they are legal both to possess and to sell.”

     “Does this pose a problem?”

     “Yes, this poses a big problem.  Poached bear galls in BC, for example, can be laundered in Quebec.  They'll even issue you a number and tag for each gall for selling and exporting purposes.”

     “What is the penalty for violations in BC?”

     “The penalty for violations in BC is unreasonably light.  Maximum $10,000, and/or 6 months in prison.  The Korean man recently convicted of possessing 88 bear gall bladders and four times as many bear paws for sale-purposes was fined $3,500 and no jail time.  This is less than the street value of the one single gall I showed you today.  It is considered just the cost of doing business, and a very low risk business at that.”

     By now, a large crowd had gathered around the trio and their imposing machine.  Anthony took a glance around and was shocked to see the store owner standing right behind the cameraman, glaring daggers at him.  He felt a small but definite shove in the small of his back.  He glanced back at the reporter and saw no special alarm on her face about whoever was standing behind him.

     “And what about these tiger bone medicines.  Are they legal?”

     “Tiger bone medicines are internationally illegal. Canada does not allow them to be imported, but currently it is legal to openly sell them on Canadian store selves.”

     “This makes no sense.”

     “Exactly.”

     “Can you explain that?”

     “The international organization called Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species - CITES - classifies various species on their conservation status.  CITES I means endangered, CITES II means threatened. Any time a species is classified CITES I, they cannot be internationally traded, in whole or part, dead or alive.  But then of course they are smuggled, and the control of whatever smuggled into a certain country depends on the internal laws of that country.  In Canada, case in point, there is no such internal law in effect.  So, essentially, you cannot import these tiger bone medicines, but if you can smuggle them in, you could openly sell them, which is what I'm in the process of demonstrating.”

     He stole another glance at the store-owner again.  If looks could kill...

     “What is your message to the government?”

     “I have two messages to the government.  One, that all provinces should make possessing and selling bear gall bladders illegal, and the fines of violation should at least be increased to match the street value of the goods seized. Two, that the selling of endangered species items should be banned throughout Canada, and the penalty for smuggling and selling violations should be high enough to be a deterrent.”

     “Can you think of anything to add?”

     “Yes. Tigers and some Asian bears are within one decade of extinction, and our North American bears are not far behind.  There is no time to wait.  Immediate action is required.”

     “Well, that's great.  Thank you, Mr. Marr.”  The reporter extended her hand and Anthony shook it.

     Turning to the cameraman, the reporter said, “Let's go and interview the store owner.”

     “He's right here,” said Anthony without hesitation, pointing at the man.

     The cameraman needed no prompting and rotated the beta-cam towards the store-owner, and the reporter turned towards him without a break in her stride.  “So, how many bear gall bladders do you sell a month, sir?”  She pointed her mike at him like an accusing finger.

     The man's eyebrows went up, his face went blank.  Then quickly, he brought up his hand to block the lens, and, glaring at Anthony with renewed venom, he hissed a single line in Cantonese before dashing into the nearest alley, “You are a dead man.”

 

 

 

 

1995-11-22-3    The Vancouver Courier        

by Kerry Gold

[China-born environmentalist says many Chinese immigrants to urbanized to care about conservation]

     …While his current campaign focus is the illegal trade in bear and tiger parts, he says he’ll get involved in any environmental issue…

 

1995-12-02-6     The Vancouver Sun                

by Nicholas Read

[Animal parts for sale, and it’s legal]

     … “The Chinese awareness is really not there,” Marr says. “Maybe the only person you saw in Chinatown today who knows or cares about the plight of the tiger was me.”…

 

1995-12-06-3     Ming Pao Daily (Chinese), Vancouver        

by Eric Chan

[Ma Seeu Sung spreads environmentalism into Chinese community]

     …’If we don’t change our ways and drive the tiger to extinction, our reputation will be forever mud,’ says Ma Seeu Sung…”

 

1995-12    Sing Tao Daily (Chinese), Vancouver                    

by H.N. Kwok

[Anthony Marr takes pay-cut to save environment]

     …When asked why he made this change, he said simply, “I just find my present work more meaningful.”…

 

1995-12-18    Chinatown News                    

by Wanda Chow

[Chinese environmentalist campaigning to change centuries-old tradition]

     … Perhaps because Marr is a Chinese person willing to speak out… he has had plenty of media attention. The public’s reaction? One Maple Grove school teacher recently said, “For years I’ve been waiting for someone like him to step forward.”

 

1996-01-08-1    Times Colonist, Victoria               

by Malcolm Curtis

[Tiger, tiger, put it right]

     … “If major endangered species of the world – bear, elephant, tiger, rhino – become extinct as a result of Chinese demand for their body parts, I would consider that a very serious crime against nature,” Marr said in an interview…

 

1996-01-21-7    The Vancouver Courier                            

by Kerry Gold

[Chinese activist fearless]

     … “My response is, I’ve got to be accountable first and foremost to myself, and I’m not going to compromise myself (by worrying) about offending certain people,” said Anthony Marr…

 

1996-01-28-7    The Vancouver Courier        

by Mrs. V. Kennedy 

[Animal torture justifies anger]

     To the editor: Your article on Anthony Marr was an eye-opener. Now I realize why those who struggle for the ethical treatment of animals are so vehemently angry…

 

1996-04-09    Ming Pao Daily News, Vancouver        

by Eric Chan

[Federal wildlife trade law soon in force]

     …Ma Seeu Sung hopes the new law will significantly empower Canadian law against the international illegal endangered species trade…

 

1996-04-10-3    The Vancouver Echo        

by Mike Bell

[Asian community takes on animal parts trade]

     It will take more than a little gall to stop the massive Chinese trade in animal parts, but Anthony Marr has a feeling deep in his heart that he’s the one who can make a difference…

 

1996-04-10-3    Associated Press

[Poaching surges for bear parts]

     … “Given a choice between a bottle of synthetic UDCA (Urso-deoxycholic Acid) and a real bear gall bladder, an old-timer will choose the latter every time; it’s half medicine and half mystique. It’s hard to fight superstition with a test tube,’ says Marr…

     … “If the Chinese really want to be modern, on par with the West, we have to do a lot of soul searching,” he said…

 

1996-04-12-5    Sing Tao Daily, Vancouver

[Grizzly-bear-poaching penalty increased to $25,000 max]

…Anthony Marr says that the new penalty, though raised, is still too lenient.  For a criminal who trade in millions of dollars, a penalty of $25,000 is “less than GST”…

 

1996-04-14-7     The Richmond News        

by Nevil Judd

[Anti-poaching activist disappointed with response from local schools]

     … “These areas are the epicentre of Chinese activity,” said Marr… “Certainly, the demand side of the equation rests squarely on the shoulders of Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures…”…

 

1996-04    Vancouver Magazine             

by Shawn Blore

[Loaded for bear]

… “Canada’s laws could use an aphrodisiac,” says Marr. “Where fighting endangered species trade is concerned, it is more or less impotent.”…

 

July, 1997

 

Canadian Immigration Hotline

 

Tiger Penises Illegally Sold As Aphrodisiacs in Chinatown

 

The holy gospel of multiculturalism holds that all cultures are equal. Worse, government policy is to "promote and enhance" Canada's multicultural features. Cultural differences go way beyond the superficial; for instance, some cultures like potatoes, others like pasta, and still others prefer rice as their source of carbohydrates. Cultures also imply values. What happens when cultural values collide? In a healthy society -- and ours, with its commitment to multicult, is not -- the values of the Majority would prevail. The following items about Chinese fringe medicine and sexology highlight the problems. Many Chinese seem to take the view that if it creeps, slithers, crawls, runs, swims or flies, its flesh should be eaten and its other body parts powdered for use as medicines or aphrodisiacs.

     One gets the impression that, if Noah's Ark had been floating around China, its animal contents would have been eaten before the 40 days were up. This culture clearly conflicts with the conservationist values that most of European descent espouse to one degree or another. "Animal penises -- including endangered tigers -- are readily available in Chinatown shops, an animal rights activist warned [July 10]. In fact, Toronto has become a hotspot for the sale of animal penises -- used for medicinal and virility purposes by some groups -- said Anthony Marr of the Western Canadian Wilderness Committee Marr said within an hour he was able to buy the penises of deer, tigers, seals, dogs and wolves and the testicles of a rooster from stores in Chinatown. 'These are totally disgusting,' Marr said. 'These products shouldn't be openly displayed, and the illegal ones should be banned.'

     The wildlife penis is believed to restore potency and virility in men. ... He said any product made out of tiger parts is illegal because the animal is an endangerd species worldwide. The animal parts are crushed into pills and pastes which are sold in small boxes for under $10. The products are used mainly by members of Metro's Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese communities. ... He said the animal parts market is worth $6-billion yearly and is on the rise in Asian countries. Marr said shark fins, crow's nests, dried seahorses, bear bladders, seal jaws, and sliced deer antlers are also popular making soups in Asian communities. Lonny Coote, of the Canadian Wildlife Service, said his group doesn't have the manpower to curb the large amount of smuggling of animal parts taking place." (Toronto Sun, July 11, 1997)

     Perhaps, the federal government could take some funds from the Ministry of Multiculturalism to hire more wildlife inspectors to control the abuses caused by poorly selected immigration. Michael Valpy of the Globe and Mail (July 15, 1997) also interviewed Marr, who is of Chinese origin. "All trade in tiger parts is banned under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Canada is both a signatory to CITES and has legislation banning domestic commerce in endangered species. On the table in front of Mr. Marr ... are a number of packages, three of them with tiger illustrations. Lettering on one package, in English, claims its contents are 24-per cent tiger by weight. Another packet has a two-word title.

     The first word is blacked out, the second word is 'whip'. Whip is a euphemism for penis. If one looks closely at the blacked-out word, the letters spelling 'tiger' can be made out. The tablets in this particular package are made by the Fatshan Union Medical Works, in Fatshan, Guangdong, China. The package advertises that they are good for 'general debility, weakness, overworking, pollution, night sweating, insomnia, nightmares, ejaculation praecox (premature), infertility, getting old, getting cold feeling in sex and unable to be pregnant.'

     Mr. Marr has found tiger pills in Chinese commercial districts across the country. They are brought into Canada in violation of international convention. They are sold openly in violation of Canadian law. No officials in Canada do anything about it. 'They don't want to ruffle any ethnic features,' said Mr. Marr. Data from endangered species protection groups indicate that China exported 27-million tiger-derived products between 1990 and 1993 and imported a weight and volume of tiger bones equivalent to 400 grown tigers and South Korea imported the equivalent of 300 grown tigers in 1993 alone.

     There are about 4,000 wild tigers left in the world. Mr. Marr also campaigns against the trade in seal penises. He points to a package labelled Hai Gou Pien Pill (Sea-Dog Whip Pill). The packet contains (says the writing on the box) three seal penises mixed with goat, deer tail, gecko and ginseng and sells for $6.99. ... No one knows how many seal penises are bought each year by the Chinese. At minimum the number is estimated to be 30,000. Canadian seal harvesters are suspected of throwing female carcasses overboard, bringing only males into port." "Seahorse populations in the wild are under threat from surging demand for traditional Asian medicines and aphrodisiacs, the first major study of trade in the fish said yesterday. More than 20 million seahorses ... are caught and traded each year, the Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC) report said.

     The majority are used in Asian medicines to treat problems including asthma, heart disease and sexual disfunction. China is estimated to import 20 tonnes each year. 'Seahorses are now at risk all over the world,' said researcher Amanda Vincent of Oxford University. 'The trade is large, global and apparently unsustainable.... In Hong Kong, sought-after species [of seahorse] can fetch $,540 a kilogram [2.2 pounds].'" (Toronto Star, July 11, 1996) Police on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard are cracking down on poachers hunting baby eels. "The transparent creatures [are] 5 to 7.5 centimeters long and not much thicker than a pencil lead. ... Recently, however, a strong Asian market has pushed the price of so-called glass eels to rarefied levels. ... Says John McCord, a South Carolina marine biologist, 'There's a big market and an illegal fishery. They're worth so much, it's worth the risk.

     Many states ban the capture of glass eels, which struggle upstream each spring after having spawned in the Atlantic. ... It is during their one-time passage to fresh water that glass eels are vulnerable to capture, and to being bagged, moistened, iced down and shipped live in jets bound mainly for China, Taiwan or Korea. ... They end their days as a high-fat, high-oil meat that is especially prized in Japan, where it often is served barbecued in a dish called kabayaki. Rising demand in Asia has brought an almost tenfold increase this decade in prices American dealers pay for glass eels, and this year those catching the tiny creatures are making about $300 (U.S.) a pound, according to fishery officials. It takes at least 2,000 glass eels to make a pound." (Toronto Star, April 12, 1997) Horne of Darkness: Rhinos on the Edge is a book by Carol Cunningham and Joel Berger that examines the plight of the rhinoceros.

     The black rhino is on the verge of extinction. The wicked Asian-driven trade in rhino horns is the culprit. "Adult black rhinos are so powerful that their only predators are humans, who slaughter them for their elegant, slashing horns. Asians grind them into medicinal powder and pay up to $16,000 (U.S.) a kilo. African poachers receive a tempting $100 to $360, equivalent to an average annual income. The insatiable demand for rhino horn is the primary cause for the animal's critically endangered status." (Globe and Mail, May 10, 1997)

 

 

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In response to this, Marr, who is of Chinese lineage himself, will first conduct a reconnaissance of Chinatown on July 31st, Saturday and August 1st, Sunday. On August 2nd, Monday, 9:30 a.m., he will hold a media conference at the Wetlands Preserve Environmental and Social Justice Activism Center on 161 Hudson Street to report on his findings. If indeed the problem is found to still persist, purchased items will be on display at the conference, immediately after which Marr will lead media to a targeted store to perform a demo-purchase for more dramatic first-hand street-level coverage. In 1996/97, Marr did exactly this in the Chinatowns of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, which made national news resulting in quick government response and a near-total elimination of these medicines from Chinatowns country-wide.

Anthony Marr will also be the guest speaker of Wetlands at the Wetlands Eco-Saloon on 161 Hudson Street at 7:00 p.m., August 3rd, Tuesday, where he will present a slideshow comprising numerous original images from his latest 10-week expedition to India in spring this year, plus the tiger episode of the Champions of the Wild TV-documentary series shown on Discovery Channel in many languages worldwide. Journalists interested in profiling the tiger and WCWC's tiger campaign are urged to attend this presentation.

For further information, please contact Adam Weissman at 212-966-4831, Wetlands Preserve.

 

*     *     *

 

1999-07-29 - Media Release - for immediate release
Chinatown Tiger Parts Market: Sting Operation, Press Conference

Purchase of illegal tiger-bone/rhino-horn medicines to be demonstrated in NYC' Chinatown August 2, Monday

"At today's rate of poaching to supply the traditional Chinese medicinal market with body-parts of tiger, rhino and bear, among others, the tiger will be extinct within a decade, and the rhino and bear species soon thereafter," says Anthony Marr, Biodiversity Campaign Director of the 28,000-members-strong Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

“The June 1999 issue of TIGERLINK reported: [Tiger products still available in U.S.A.]" In a survey conducted April 1999...investigators found that in a random 47 Chinese pharmacies in New York's Chinatown District, 63% (30 shops) still offer tiger parts or products containing, or claiming to contain, tiger parts.

 

 

 

August 12, 1999

IMPORTS OF TIGER BONES A PROBLEM IN U.S.
Reuters
Manuela Badawy

NEW YORK -- Anthony Marr is, according to this story, on a crusade to save the tiger from extinction. But his battleground is not south China or India or Sumatra, the tiger's traditional homes. It is here in the United States, where the lack of a strategy to stop the importation of elixirs made from tiger parts is an obstacle to saving the animal from disappearing in the wild.

Marr, 55, the leader of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee that helped force the Canadian government in 1997 to strengthen laws to stop people from importing and selling tiger products, was quoted as saying, "New York City is the only major city in North America that tiger bones are openly sold in spite of the existing law."

This story explained that tiger parts have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 1,000 years to treat everything from skin disease and convulsions to laziness. As China's population has exploded and its people have become more affluent, demand has risen while the supply--wild tigers--has collapsed. Tigers, which once roamed freely throughout Asia, now number about 7,000, down from 150,000 a half century ago. Their range has shrunk to only a few national parks, mostly in India, which has been fighting a losing battle against the poaching that supplies much of the demand for tiger parts. About two tigers die each day, at least one in India due to direct killing, pest control or habitat loss.

TIGER 'PURSUED IN THE BLACK MARKET'

Pranay Waghray, director of the Nallamalai Foundation for tiger preservation, was quoted as saying, "The tiger is a protected animal in India but it is highly pursued in the black market in southeast Asia and China because it is said to be medicinal." The Nallamalai reservation has India's largest tiger population. The problem is not limited just to Asia. The diaspora of the Chinese people means that many cities around the world have a Chinatown, and many of those Chinatowns have traditional Chinese medicine shops.

Marr, who is of Chinese descent and has taken heat from other Asians for his campaign, was cited as saying that many of those shops, even ones in the United States where it is illegal to import products made from endangered species, sell medicines made from tiger bones, adding, "At today's rate of poaching tigers will be extinct in a decade. Tigers don't have the time to wait for the Chinese community to change its habit."

 

*     *     *

 

1999-08-16

Imports Of Tiger Bones A Problem In U.S.

by Manuela Badawy

NEW YORK - Anthony Marr is on a crusade to save the tiger from extinction.

But his battleground is not south China or India or Sumatra, the tiger's traditional homes. It is here in the United States, where the lack of a strategy to stop the importation of elixirs made from tiger parts is an obstacle to saving the animal from disappearing in the wild.

"New York City is the only major city in North America that tiger bones are openly sold in spite of the existing law," said Marr, 55, the leader of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee that helped force the Canadian government in 1997 to strengthen laws to stop people from importing and selling tiger products.

Tiger parts have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than1,000 years to treat everything from skin disease and convulsions to laziness. As China's population has exploded and its people have become more affluent, demand has risen while the supply -- wild tigers -- has collapsed.

Tigers, which once roamed freely throughout Asia, now number about7,000, down from 150,000 a half century ago. Their range has shrunk to only a few national parks, mostly in India, which has been fighting a losing battle against the poaching that supplies much of the demand for tiger parts.

About two tigers die each day, at least one in India due to direct killing, pest control or habitat loss.

TIGER 'PURSUED IN THE BLACK MARKET'

"The tiger is a protected animal in India but it is highly pursued in the black market in southeast Asia and China because it is said to be medicinal," said Pranay Waghray, director of the Nallamalai Foundation for tiger preservation. The Nallamalai reservation has India's largest tiger population.

The problem is not limited just to Asia. The diaspora of the Chinese people means that many cities around the world have a Chinatown, and many of those Chinatowns have traditional Chinese medicine shops. Marr said many of those shops, even ones in the United States where it is illegal to import products made from endangered species, sell medicines made from tiger bones.

"At today's rate of poaching tigers will be extinct in a decade. Tigers don't have the time to wait for the Chinese community to change its habit," said Marr, who is of Chinese descent and has taken heat from other Asians for his campaign. On a recent day, he led journalists to New York's Chinatown, which has one of the largest concentrations of people with Chinese background in the United States, to buy supposedly banned tiger elixirs.

At the Golden Spring pharmacy on the Bowery in lower Manhattan, Marr walked right in and bought a vial of Tiem Ma tiger bone pills for $3.95.Tiem Ma pills, made by Guiyang Chinese medicine factory in China, listed6.8 percent ground tiger bones as one of its ingredients and claimed to treat rheumatic neuralgia, lassitude of tendons and back pain.

When journalists and photographers went into the store after Marr purchased the pills, clerks became visibly anxious, removed the pills from the counter and shoved them into a box. They refused to answer journalists' questions.

CRUSADER EXPECTS STRONGER U.S. LAWS

Marr said he expected U.S. legislators to strengthen the penalties and provide funding to enforce current laws to stop the traffic. Under the 1998 Rhino and Tiger Product Labeling Act, which bars importation or sale of products containing tiger parts, people caught with these products face a fine of $5,000. Business owners pay $10,000 and/or get six months in jail.

In comparison, fines for seal penises, also used in traditional Chinese medicine, are $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 and/or one year in jail for business owners.

Marr said fines for possessing tiger products are also minuscule compared to the huge worldwide wildlife trade, estimated at $6 billion annually. It is the second largest U.S. black market trade after illicit drugs.

The Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service is in charge of enforcing the law and monitoring importation of wildlife products.

While acknowledging that illegal tiger products are being sold in the United States, it argued that there are not enough law enforcement officers or funds to police the amount of illegal imports, estimates for which are hard to come by since the trade is underground.

The U.S. market is the largest for wildlife products in the world but the country has only 93 wildlife inspectors to cover 30 ports of entry. Another 230 special agents devoted to other environment-related trade provide part-time help.

"It's up to Congress to provide funds," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Patricia Fisher said. "The agency is very small and it's not up to the agency to get the money.

"To help reduce the use of tiger products in the United States, the wildlife agency has been working with Asian communities in Los Angeles to develop educational programs. Waghray said the best way to protect the tiger is to combat poverty in areas such as Nallamalai.

But Marr said putting an end to illegal trade in wildlife must begin in each country's backyard. "All that is needed are two or three people to clean up the neighbourhood if they concentrate on doing it," he said.

Story by Manuela Badawy

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE 

1999-08-16

Indian Tiger Bones Earn Small Fortunes In Chinatowns

A P Kamath in New York

When Anthony Marr paid $ 4 and received an alleged arthritis cure in Chinatown early this week, he was not surprised.

Indeed, he would have been surprised if he could not find the tiger bone cure. For he had known for a long time that tiger bone remedies are widely sold in many Chinatowns in North America. Though officially the sale is banned, and the offenders could be fined $ 10,000, Marr had the gut feeling that hardly anyone was worried.

Anthony Marr is not just a lover of tigers. For several years he has served as one of the leaders of the Vancouver-based Western Canada Wilderness Committee, one of the most influential environmental and wildlife organizations in the world. Last year, he spent several weeks in India to study the efforts being made to increase the population of endangered tiger species. But he returned to Vancouver disillusioned at the killing of tigers.

Within a hour of his Chinatown tour, Marr said he found at least ten groceries selling tiger bones. Marr suspects most of the bones come from tigers killed by poachers in India.

"Tigers will be extinct in about 10 years if things won't change," he has been warning. His New York visit was to gain publicity for his cause -- and demand the government enforces the ban more efficiently.

But officials at the Fish and Wildlife Services, which is entrusted with the ban, concede they are too short-staffed. And to get the Chinese change their mindset about the alleged efficacy of tiger products is far from easy.

But Marr vows to continue his fight. He is thinking of starting a letter campaign to the federal agency in Washington.

The WCWC, which was started in 1980 by individuals who loved nature and animals, is asking for volunteers from ethnic groups across British Columbia and other Western provinces. The organization is currently setting up a "grassroots distribution team" where volunteers will take its educational newspapers to meeting places in their communities. It has produced 118 editions of free newspapers, published 11 books and several video films.

Its Tiger Show has been presented to more than 30,000 students in British Columbia and Calgary during last 12 months.

Marr can be reached at anthony_marr@yahoo.com

 

*     *     *

1999-09-10

From: Wetlands Preserve

Wetlands Sept 1999 Mailing

Wetlands and Western Canada Wilderness Committee Expose Illegal Chinatown Trade in Tiger, Jaguar, Seal, Endangered Species Parts

"At today's rate of poaching to supply the traditional Chinese medicinal market with body-parts of tiger, rhino and bear, among others, the tiger will be extinct within a decade, and the rhino and bear species thereafter." -- Anthony Marr

In response to a report in the tiger conservation publication TIGERLINK that a survey of 47 Chinese pharmacies in New York's Chinatown, 63% (30 shops) still offer tiger parts or products containing, or claiming to contain, tiger parts, Anthony Marr, Biodiversity Campaign Director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), conducted a reconnaissance of Chinatown in conjunction with Wetlands and Animal Defense League activists during the first weekend in August.

What they found shocked them. Not only were pills claiming to be ground tiger bones openly on display, but leopard bone, seal penis, and pangolin (an African endangered animal species), were also available! Upon making these discoveries Wetlands issued a press release announcing a press conference to be held the following Monday morning to present the findings.

After the media conference, which was held in Wetlands downstairs lounge, Marr led journalists into Chinatown for a sting operation. While photographers and videographers positioned themselves out of site, Marr went to purchase endangered species products. However, as he was about to make the purchase, the store clerk saw the journalists and began clearing all endangered species parts from the shelves. But it was too late: the journalists had the proof they needed. What resulted was huge media splash, as the first wave of journalists, including the Associated Press, Daily News, Reuters, World Journal (the New York area's largest Chinese-language paper), ran their stories, resulting in a second wave of courage from journalists who saw the initial coverage, including a French-based world news agency, Fox News Channel, Radio Free Asia, and others.

In 1996/97, Marr conducted a similar investigation into the Chinatowns of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, which made national news resulting in quick government response and a near-total elimination of these medicines from Chinatowns country-wide. As a person of

Chinese descent, Anthony is able to investigate the sale of endangered species parts in Chinese herb shops and traditional pharmacies without raising suspicion. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that consuming the parts of an animal responsible for its strengths will pass that strength on to the consumer.

Wetlands and WCWC are currently pursuing this campaign to the next stage, working with the NY State Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division to prosecute business selling endangered species parts.

2000-04-02

Subject: RE: St.Bernard Steaks Anyone?
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 10:59:37 -0700 (PDT)

Hello Anthony!

I read your commentary with great interest and feel you would be the person to ask a question that's been rolling around in my head for many, many years.  Do you have any idea as to WHY Asian cultures are notorious for deliberately mistreating animals intended for the food table and the taking of fur, etc?
 
I know mistreatment happens in ALL cultures across the globe, and here in the states many people see nothing wrong with throwing a living lobster into a pot of boiling water.  But it seems that in many Asian cultures it is deemed proper to torture animals before killing them.

Dogs being muzzled with frayed tin cans, then beaten to a pulp while still alive to "tenderize" before  killing to eat, and the cooking of living fish and then eating them while they are still alive...GAWD, but these things are such awful things.

Is there anyway to tell where this approach developed?  Can it ever be changed?

-----------------------

From: "Anthony Marr"

Thank you for the question, and congratulations for your guts in asking it.

As I write I have the TV on and coincidentally, Suzuki is on Discovery Channel in a special on animal experimentation.  Just now they showed a LIVE baboon strapped to a bench, limbs flaying, with its head in vice which was gradually tightened until the babbon's head was crushed.  I'm about to throw up.

I would think that the scientists are kind and gentle people at home and on the street, and among themselves, but once they enter the animal experimentation lab, they subtly yet drastically transform into something very similar to the Nazi scientists during WW2.  The only difference between them is the subject of their experimentation, humans in the case of the Nazis and non-humans in the modern lab.  And that is not a difference that animal rights people would recognize.

Don't get me wrong.  I have a science degree myself, so I'm certainly not anti-science.  What I AM saying is that human arrogance and speciesism infiltrates everything we do, EVEN something as civilized and cosmic as science.  The Asian banquet goes without saying.
 
You know what?  Even though I was born in China, of Chinese lineage, raised
by Chinese parents, lived amongst Chinese people, educated in Chinese
schools, hung out with Chinese school chums..., I still can't answer
your question, at least not to my own satisfaction.

I guess what we're looking at is the Chinese version of anthropocentrism,
combined with a total absence of empathy for the animal's feelings.  The latter may not be entire accurate, considering that many, Chinese and non-Chinese alike, do horrible things to animals and other human BECAUSE they KNOW that what they do causes pain.  Some species we belong to!
 
I don't think that all Chinese are like this.  If I may say so, I am the proof that SOME Chinese people are compassionate and empathetic, and I certian am not alone.  In fact, people who would fry fish alive, etc, are in the tiny minority, but they do exist, and they are socially and economically powerful.
 
What it is IS a TRADITION of heartlessness towards animals.  They don't
necessarily enjoy giving the animals pain.  They are just unfeeling, unempathetic, uncaring, and deeply subject to the power of the
tradition, and this combined with their voluptuary tendencies especially regarding delicacies, give rise to the set of obscene behaviour they indulge in.

Let me give you an example.  One, they feel no empathy for bears.  Two,
Tradition has it that bear paws are a great delicacy.  Three, tradition has it that the fresher the food, the better.  These three factors combined produced the hideous Korean underground bear-banquet where they lower a live bear in a cage onto a bed of hot coal to cook its paws alive.  Now THAT's fresh.  The bear's screams?  I guess some tolerate it and others enjoy it. Some may even be appalled, but, hey, it's prestige and demonstration of wealth, what the hell.  While on this topic, I have a vague plan to go undercover in Seoul to video-tape (with concealed camera) one of these horror-shows for global revelation (though to some inevitably entertainment), although I might lose my lunch doing it.  Remember, it was the video of dolphin deaths in tuna nets that got the nets changed. Anyone care to help out in this?

This same applies to the live-fish deep fry - fresh, fresh, fresh.

This is why I don't give the word TRADITION all that much respect.  And
this is also why I oppose the Makah TRADITION of whale hunting.

All these should stop, and of course the animal experimentation and
trophy hunting traditions.

In my view, the genesis of animal right is two-staged, the first stage being
human right.  In countries without human right, animal right would seem
inconceivable.

Anthony
 

*     *     *

2000-05

How Consumers Affect Biodiversity    
Written by Allison Sloan

A display in my local natural foods store stops me cold: Alongside products labeled "Not Tested on Animals" stand bottles of ground shark cartilage, and a book, Sharks Don't Get Cancer.

While many studies have overwhelmingly discredited shark cartilage as a cancer therapy, approximately 50,000 Americans will consume it this year, The Amicus Journal reports. Meanwhile, shark populations have plunged since the 1970s, some species by more than 75%, due to overfishing, spurred in large part by Asia's appetite for shark-fin soup.

Sharks aren't the only dwindling predators prey to humans. "In New York City's Chinatown last summer, I found medicines containing powdered tiger and leopard bones, which are both illegal and endangered, in nine stores," reports
Anthony Marr, director of Heal Our Planet Earth Global Environmental Organization. While most Americans may not be consuming poached wild animals, many of our mundane daily choices, from fish to clothing, do impact the viability of many species.

Biodiversity, the variety of life forms on Earth, is in trouble. Worldwide, approximately 34% of fish, 25% of mammals, 11% of birds, 20% of reptiles and 25% of amphibians, are on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of species threatened with extinction. "Currently, we are driving species to extinction up to 1,000 times faster than the natural rate, which is one in a million per year," says Stuart Pimm, Ph.D., professor of conservation biology at Columbia University in New York.

While it's important to support protective legislation, such as the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and its enforcement, there are two major threats to biodiversity that we as consumers can directly help abate: trade in threatened species, and proliferation of invasive species.

Trade in Threatened Species

"For a long list of threatened animal species out there, trade in their parts is the foremost threat," says Craig Hoover, senior program officer at TRAFFIC North America, a program of the IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that monitors trade in endangered species. Poached tigers, bears, rhinos, leopards and pangolins are used in traditional Chinese medicines sold in North American shops, although this is illegal under the United Nations' Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The hunting of "bushmeat" has surpassed habitat destruction as the number one threat to primates. And most Southeast Asian turtles have vanished into the soup pots of China.

Fueled by demand for ivory jewelry and carvings, elephant killings in Africa rose in 1999. Tortoiseshell combs and jewelry from endangered sea turtles are still sold in some Caribbean countries. The U.S. Department of Commerce has listed 98 species of fish -- a record number -- as harvested beyond sustainable levels. And New York socialites were subpoenaed by a U.S. district court in 1999 for owning shahtoosh shawls, from the wool of poached, endangered Tibetan antelopes called chirus, of which only 75,000 remain.

We can make a positive difference by avoiding such products, and telling others. "Ask exactly what you're purchasing and where it's coming from, and check to make sure it's not threatening wild populations," Hoover says. You can get a list of endangered species from TRAFFIC.

The same goes for plants. "Collection for the herb trade is a large factor in the precarious status of plants such as American ginseng, goldenseal, echinacea, black cohosh, and slippery elm," says Chris Robbins, program officer at TRAFFIC. Although goldenseal is listed as endangered or imperiled in numerous states, only 2.4% of the 260,000 pounds used in 1998 came from cultivated sources. "Consumer awareness is an enormous benefit to addressing these problems," Hoover adds.

Exotic Invaders

As a volunteer at The Nature Conservancy's Ives Road Fen Preserve in Michigan in 1996, I was puzzled to be assigned the task of demolishing every sample of an attractive, healthy bush. The reason soon became clear: My victim, the fast-growing European glossy buckthorn, was shading out and drinking up the water supply of the 150 rare native plants in the ecosystem. Such non-native, invasive species "are one, if not the primary, cause of species extinctions," Dr. Pimm says.

At least 4,500 non-native animals and plants have established populations in the U.S., and approximately 15% have become invasive, harming natives. And the invasions are accelerating. "The amount of both passenger and commercial cargo traffic has increased by about 100% in the past decade, and people and cargo bring things in with them," said Dan Glickman, then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, in March 2000 in New York City, where he was addressing the emergency of the tree-killing Asian longhorned beetle. Since its discovery in the U.S. in 1996, 5,600 infested trees have had to be chipped and burned in New York and Chicago.

The beetle is believed to have entered the U.S. on wooden packing crates, like many invaders that hitch rides on ships and airplanes. Others are imported as pets or for beneficial purposes, then run amok. Invasive pests cost the U.S. around $138 billion per year, according to a 1999 Cornell University study.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, responsible for controlling and preventing the entry of invading species, historically helped create the problem. "By 1923 the department had introduced more than 50,000 exotic plants into the U.S." for intended beneficial uses, writes Robert S. Devine in his book, Alien Invasion (National Geographic Society, 1998, $15). Some, such as crabgrass and Johnson grass, became major weeds, and many of the insect pests and plant diseases that now plague farmers snuck in on those thousands of plants. Although regulators have made advances in stopping invasive species at the border, "A whole host of plants that have become invasive pests are still for sale in nurseries," observes Janet Marinelli, director of publishing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. By choosing not to buy such invasive plants or products made from threatened species, we may help turn back the species-ravaging tide.


The 'Bear' Facts

Each year, China's bear farms are believed to produce approximately 7000kg of bile, half of which is used in modern and traditional medicine; where it can be used to treat ailments of the liver and gallbladder, and half of which is used in cosmetics and other luxury products; where it serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

Most of these luxury bile products are considered to be a 'cash crop' and are often sold to tourists, despite export restrictions. Bringing in a health profit for Chinese bear farmers and bile product sellers.

"It is an added disgrace that an oversupply of bile is being used in products with no medicinal value”

Peter Skinner


At current market prices, bear bile can sell for $US4,500 per kilo.

According to EU statistics, China currently is currently 'framing' approximately 7000 bears in aournd 200 active farms, though some outside estimates put the figure closer to 70 farms.

Tradition or Tragedy?

While bear farming is a tragedy in itself, what makes this situation all the more tragic is that bear bile is medically unnecessary.

Although bear bile is known to have some curative properties, its active ingredient, ursodeoxycholic acid (C24H40O4), was identified by Japanese scientists approximately 50 years ago, and is it now available in a synthesised form that is both, as effective as the bear based product, and readily available on the open market.

Current estimates put the current consumption of synthetic bear bile at 100 tons each year, with Japan, South Korea and China being the primary consumers.

According to Chinese herbalists, there are also at least 50 herbal alternatives to bear bile. Most of which are not only more humane, but also more affordable and easier to prepare and administer, than bear bile.

"Research shows there are many combinations of herbs available that can be administered for ailments currently treated with bear bile. And they are easier and cheaper to use"

Dr. Lo Yan-wo, Herbalist and Traditional Chinese heale

 


However, despite the availability of a synthetic product, and numerous traditional alternatives to bear bile, many Chinese still prefer the 'natural' version. A situation that many observers have put down to a combination of Chinese superstition and pride. With many Chinese still holding on to the belief that the body parts of a strong animals are endowed with the animal's strength; thus will make potent medicines, and the idea that consuming expensive products, such as bear bile, is a legitimate symbol of status and power.


"It's a mystique thing -- superstitious thinking. They believe a powerful animal should produce a powerful medicine."

Anthony Marr, Environmentalist



Image Problems

Though Chinese traditions have undoubtedly played a part in the continuance of bear farming, environmentalists have also voiced that Beijing's attitude to bear farms has been a great hindrance. Stating that, because bear farming is regulated by the state, many in China view it in the same light as the farming of any other livestock, and because protests against bear farms are 'discouraged' in the same way as protests for democracy, that there is little or no social pressure on bear farmers, or bile users, to stop.


"People believe because it's farmed, it's okay."
monitoring program, World Wildlife Fo
Judy Mills, Wildlife Trade undation



A full English language transcript of Wang's speech can be found at http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/xw/t231011.htm

 


 

 

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