Asian elephants said at risk from Chinese demand for skin

BANGKOK — A report by a British-based conservation group says rising Chinese demand for products made from elephant skin is driving poaching and posing a threat to Asia's wild herds even greater than the ivory trade.

The group Elephant Family says the threat is currently greatest in Myanmar, but warns that the Asian elephant could become extinct in half the areas where it ranges if the problem escalates. It says the threat exceeds that from the ivory trade because poachers are targeting any elephant, not just those with tusks.

The report's authors say their research shows that the elephant's skin is ground into powder and sold in China as a cure for stomach ailments, as well as being fashioned into beads for necklaces, bracelets and pendants.

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