Apparently, it is still acceptable in China to give hats made from the fur of poached red pandas as traditional gifts for special occasions.
From the BBC:
Red pandas are poached for their fur or sold as pets. Red panda fur is used to make hats and clothing in China. In the past red panda hats were given as wedding presents because they were seen as good luck charms. This tradition continues in some regions.
Red panda populations can only be roughly estimated. ItÂs thought that there has been a 40% decrease in ChinaÂs red panda population during the last 50 years.
It's not only the red pandas, either. Tiger parts of all sorts - bones, internal organs and genitals - and rhino horn are used prolifically in traditional Chinese holistic medicine. Some estimate that nearly 60% of China's 1.3 billion inhabitants use these holistic medicines with some frequency.
From the WWF:
Because of their use in medicines -- along with other factors like habitat loss -- tigers have almost disappeared, with as few as 5,000 to 7,000 left in the wild. If the use of their bones for TCM continues, the powerful and majestic wild tiger may not be around for future generations. Rhino horn has been used in Chinese medicines for centuries to treat fevers, convulsions and delirium. But now only 3,100 black rhinos survive in Africa. In Asia, the situation is even more dire, with only about 2,800 of all three Asian species combined.
I am all for the preservation of cultural integrity, but this is where the line needs to be drawn. These animals are in grave danger of disappearing forever for the sake of primitive, worthless medicines and adornments, infinitely replaceable by modern synthetics.
This is a nice hat:
This is not:
*Ancestry tomorrow, promise. :-)