The sights and smells of the small market were intoxicating.

The constant chatter of humans mixed with the sounds of caged animals.

Xao Ling dragged him along. ‘Here,’ he pointed.

An old woman sat surrounded by pots of powders and liquids. Her skin was a patchwork of wrinkles, her eyes half-closed slits, her hair was wiry and grey.

He sat down. She took his hands in hers. A cracked smile appeared on the woman’s face. She spoke in a quick rattle of words.

‘I see your pain,’ Xao translated, with a smile. ‘She can help you.’

‘Fascinating, can she really?’

He took his I.D. from his pocket and held it up in front of the woman. She looked confused.

Xao explained: ‘CITES. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. We would like to know where you got this ivory.’

The woman’s face was blank. She had no idea she was doing anything wrong.


Linking up with the prompt at What Pegman Saw. The task is to write a story in 150 words or less based on the destination that Pegman is visiting. This week’s destination is Xinhua, China. Elephants, Rhinos and a plethora of animals continue to be illegally poached to extinction around the world, and most of the ivory and other rare ‘ingredients’ end up in Asia and China, being sold on the black market, in the belief that they will provide traditional cures and remedies – the ignorance and stupidity of humankind at its very worst.

You can read other stories based on the prompt HERE.


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13 responses to “MARKET TRADE”

  1. Oh, that last line! I’ve been reading a bit here and bit there about illegal trade of animal parts ~ I find red tiger bone particularly disturbing ~ but never thought about the tradesmen who honestly don’t know what they are selling. Thanks for bringing that to my attention with this wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alicia – I really wonder if those practising these medicines and cures and selling in markets know how endangered these animals are – and if they did would it change their ways?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great description of the setting and atmosphere in this one! And yes, what an important issue to bring more light to. It would be bad enough if these endangered species were being hunted for something useful, but the fact that they’re killed for traditional “cures” that modern science show to be totally useless is doubly tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It amazes me that people still believe in these things, but I tried to convey the idea that those that do may not be exposed to the same sort of scientific knowledge and understanding that everyone else is. I wonder if those still practising this sort of medicine even realise that the animals that are killed for their ‘medicines’ are even endangered. Thanks Joy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a really good point. People differ greatly in their access to information, but also in whether they have reason to trust the news sources they have access to. It’s hard to blame someone for continuing to believe something their parents and other elders always told them, for instance, just because some outsiders tell them differently.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really well structured, Iain, slowly revealing the nature of the encounter, and the ignorance of the trader. The writing is engrossing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadly, I suspect many people do know but their traditions and beliefs feel more real, more important than the animals they use. Let’s face it, if most of us were faced with serious illness or a possible cure at the expense of an animal, we’d be tempted to take the cure.
    Well told tale and kudos for seeing the other side of the situation

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It very much depends on your background I think. I know I would not hold much hope with a traditional herbal cure for example, because I come from a background where science and practicality are the basis for medical knowledge. I do think more education and awareness would help, along with a much stronger effort and enforcement from the global leaders. Thanks Lynn.


      1. It’s a complicated issue, Iain. And with a tradition stretching back hundreds of years at least. It’s a tough one and you dealt with it very well

        Liked by 1 person

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