A legal loophole in China is allowing the purchase and sale of illicit tiger bones, used to make wine-based tinctures, according to the Daily Beast.
Speaking to the site, Li Wen, a small scale manufacturer of tiger bone wine, said his recipe was simple; add a tiger bone to rice wine and steep for 50 days.
As with illegal ivory, some see it as a symbol of status while others believe it improves confidence and gives the user a sense of dominance.
Li Wen explained his reasoning to the Daily Beast: “If I ever had to face that thing,” he said, pointing to a tiger bone steeping in a vat of rice wine.
“It would kill me, but now it’s in a jar, like I tamed it,” he concluded.
Li Wen explained the traditional process was much more complex, tiger bones also being brewed with other ingredients such as antelope horn, red sage and dried ginger.
Consumers of tiger bone ‘wine’ believe it can boost qi, the body’s vital energy in Chinese culture, as well as boost circulation, cure arthritis and improve strength.
A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) last year revealed that, while the tiger bone trade for traditional medicine has been banned since 1993, the government has encouraged the growth of captive tiger breeding programs.
This government authorised trade, coupled with a lack of clarity on the matter, renders the UN Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) all but powerless in regards to China’s indigenous south China tiger.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorises the south China tiger as “critically endangered”, the highest level before extinction.