Sex, drugs and animal parts: Will Viagra save threatened species?

Viagra may help to save many species of animals and plants that are now endangered due to the demand for animal sexual potency products, according to new research from the University of New South Wales and the University of Alaska. The research suggests that the availability of viagra is having an impact on trade in some of the products, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat impotence, including body parts from seals, deer, green turtles, sea cucumbers, pipefishes, sea horses and geckos.From the University of New South Wales:Sex, drugs and animal parts: Will Viagra save threatened species?
Viagra may help to save many species of animals and plants that are now endangered due to the demand for animal sexual potency products, according to new research from the University of New South Wales and the University of Alaska.

The research suggests that the availability of viagra is having an impact on trade in some of the products, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat impotence.

“Viagra is cheaper than many of these animal products and its effectiveness is demonstrated rather than hoped for,” said co-author Dr William von Hippel from the school of psychology at UNSW.

“Although potency treatments represent only a small percentage of the use of threatened species in TCM, they are disproportionately important because of the prevalence of erectile dysfunction, and the amount of money men are willing to pay to treat the condition,” he said.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Conservation, finds the rise in the use of viagra may relieve pressure on certain species including seals, deer, green turtles, sea cucumbers, pipefishes, sea horses and geckos.

Dr von Hippel said: “Getting the full picture may be impossible because many threatened species are traded illegally. Case studies are available, however, in the legal trade of reindeer antler velvet from Alaska and the genitalia of harp and hooded seals from Canada. And those data show a dramatic decline in sales since the introduction of viagra.”

Date: 16 October 2002

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