Juvenile anaconda on sale at Belén market for belief-based use

Traditional medicine

Ending commercial exploitation

We aim to end the cruel exploitation and commodification of wild animals used in Traditional Medicine.

The use of wildlife as traditional medicine is a phenomenon that occurs across the world and has been of cultural importance for many people and societies for millennia. These practices remain widespread and varied, involving a wide array of species across all taxonomic groups.

Primarily, traditional medicine uses plants and minerals to heal and cure illness, however a small number of preparations contain wild animal parts. This is causing untold animal suffering and cruelty, while threatening the survival of multiple species.

We are working to transform the traditional medicine industry, so the use of wild animals in medicinal and health products is no longer socially acceptable and is replaced with herbal (or other humane) alternatives.

World Animal Protection is working to change the system that allows exploitation of wildlife for traditional medicine by:

  • Changing laws and policies governing legal and illegal wildlife farming.
  • Shifting attitudes and behaviours of multiple stakeholders to support animal welfare and humane alternatives.
  • Demonstrating reputational risk for companies that continue to profit from cruelty, leading them to change policies, and publicly support wildlife friendly business practices as a way out of exploitation.
  • Ensuring the South African government is held accountable to its commitment to phase out captive lion farming.
  • Moving Vietnam and China to commit to the last generation of bears in captivity by introducing a breeding ban and more support for plant-based alternatives.

World Animal Protection, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and University of Oxford, has released evidence that provides new insight into the use of wildlife as Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) - with hopes of a solution that could protect wildlife from suffering and extinction.

TAWAP.org provides alternatives to wild animal preparations, using plant and mineral based ingredients instead.

Press release: New research offers hope for animals, as plant-based alternatives accepted by traditional Chinese medicine market

Captive lion breeding

8,000-12,000 lions and thousands of other big cats, including tigers and cheetahs, are bred and kept in captivity in more than 350 facilities in South Africa. These predators are bred for commercial purposes, including interactive tourism, “canned” hunting, lion bone trade and live exports.

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Protecting bears

We've been working for over 30 years to protect bears from being cruelly exploited for their bile, for use in traditional medicine, using painful and inhumane procedures endured over a lifetime in captivity in filthy and cramped conditions no bigger than a phone booth.

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Jaguar Spirit Documentary

Jaguar Spirit

A documentary exposing how Bolivia became the global centre of the illegal jaguar trade. Sign up for early access to the Jaguar Spirit film.

Bear Bile Industry

Bears in Asia are captured for their bile, which is extracted using cruel, painful procedures and sold as traditional medicine. But the bear bile industry is unnecessary – inexpensive synthetic & herbal alternatives to bear bile are readily available.

Ending commercial exploitation


Together we can drive down consumer demand and expose the lies of businesses that profit from cruelly exploiting wild animals.