Prince Philip

Prince Philip

Britain's Prince Philip is to host representatives from the Chinese government for talks on animal conservation.

The Duke of Edinburgh - who is a president of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - will meet at Buckingham Palace where he is seeking to gain support for tackling the "corruption" of some forms of traditional Chinese remedies, which are threatening the existence of several species such as tigers and rhinos.

The prince is setting up the meeting at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, an organisation he founded in 1995 to encourage religious groups to develop environmental programmes.

Among those expected to attend are members of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs and practitioners of Daoism, a chinese religion which has already banned the use of endangered species in remedies among its followers.

A source told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: "Prince Philip is not supportive of what he sees as the corruption of traditional Chinese medicine, where people are buying tiger penises for aphrodisiacs and rhino horns to cure cancer, despite the fact there is no proven medicinal quality.

"He is trying to encourage the Chinese government to support the Daoists in undermining the incorrect use of traditional Chinese medicine, which is killing the wildlife of the world."

Tiger parts, including bones, teeth, eyes and whiskers, are used to treat ailments from insomnia to toothache, while rhino horns, which can sell for up to £15,000 each in China and wealthy Asian countries, are used as a treatment for fevers, hangovers and, in some places, are considered an aphrodisiac.

Wild populations of both animals are extremely low, with rhino populations falling by 90 per cent since 1970 and tiger populations falling by 97 per cent since the last century.