Sign up for our free China-Africa Week in Review email newsletter
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Follow CAP on Social Media

Listen to the CAP Podcast

Growing Demand in China for Africa's Lion Bones

Traditional Chinese medicine, popular throughout Asia, has long prized the supposed medicinal value of tiger bones. Now, though, as the world’s wild tiger population is fast disappearing, even facing extinction, the Chinese medicine industry may have found an alternative with lion bones.

A new study reveals demand for lion bones has surged since 2008, with the bones largely going to Asia for use in traditional medicine. The researchers found that the bones are not being hunted from wild lions, but rather “harvested” from the legal hunting of captive lions in South Africa.

Conservationists point out that there is a big difference between the budding trade in lion bones and that of rhino horn and elephant ivory. Unlike rhinos and elephants, lions are not endangered (yet). However, if Chinese and Asian demand for lion bones surges, as they fear it might, then that could fuel encourage either an expansion of the controversial lion breeding industry or result in illegal poaching of wild lions.

This new research report on the lion bone trade was written by the non-profit wildlife conservation group TRAFFIC, the Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and Wits University in Johannesburg. Two of the reports authors, Dr. Vivienne Williams from Wits University and TRAFFIC’s David Newton join Eric & Cobus to discuss the emerging lion bone trade between China and Africa.

Show Notes:

Read the full report: Bones of Contention

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 3.57.26 PM

  • Get a daily email packed with the latest China-Africa news and analysis.
  • Read exclusive insights on the key trends shaping China-Africa relations.
  • Connect with leading professionals on the China- Africa Experts Network.

You've reached your free monthly article limit.

Subscribe today for unlimited access.

What is The China-Africa Project?


The CAP is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Africa stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalist and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Africa discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.