SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Wolf, golden jackal, and large-spotted civet among hundreds of animals granted special status in a first major shake-up of the inventory for over 30 years.
The move is part of a revision to the Wildlife Protection Law, which started with a ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals in February last year
China has added 517 species to its list of major protected wild animals, part of its campaign in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to end the wild animal trade and destruction of habitats.
A joint statement on Friday by the forestry and agriculture ministries said adjusting the list had become “extremely urgent” because of recent changes in China’s wildlife situation.
A total of 980 wild animals are now under state protection.
The ministries promised to work with local governments to identify and protect the habitats of the animals added to the list, which include the endangered large-spotted civet and several species of birds that have dwindled in number in recent years.
Those who hunt and traffic the animals face fines and even custodial sentences for “level one” protected species, such as the critically endangered panda, pangolin, and Yangtze finless porpoise.
China has been trying to crack down on the wildlife trade since January 2020, after the first cases of COVID-19 were linked to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan that was known to sell exotic animal species.
Scientists speculate that the novel coronavirus has forced people to re-examine the link between animals and humans and pushed wildlife conservation to the top of the legislative agenda.
Back in mid-February, the legislative committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) added a revision of the Wildlife Protection Law to its 2020 to-do list; later that month, the NPC’s Standing Committee announced a ban on the eating of wild animals and a crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade.
Then, in June, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and the Ministry of Agriculture issued a consultation draft of an update to China’s list of protected animals.
China has also promised to step up efforts to protect forests and wetlands and to seal off nature reserves behind “ecological protection red lines” in a bid to reduce human exposure to virus spillovers.
Prior to 2017, the Wildlife Protection Law didn’t specify how often the list of protected animals should be updated. But a revision that came into force at the start of that year requires an update every five years.
China’s parliament announced plans to implement a permanent nationwide ban on wildlife trade and trafficking in February, though it left big loopholes for the captive breeding of animals traded for fur or used in traditional Chinese medicine, and so bear and tiger farms are ignored.
In the first nine months of 2020, China prosecuted more than 15,000 people for wildlife crimes, up 66% from the same period a year earlier, state prosecutors said.
Reporting by David Stanway;
And I mean…While heralding big progress, some say the consultation draft still leaves conspicuous omission of important species, principles, and mechanisms to make it easier to update again…
Here is a link to take a different view of China’s new list of animal welfare laws.
Nevertheless! China has never claimed it has the best animal welfare law in the world, and in fact, China has missed some of the development of the animal welfare movement.
On the other hand, China is one of the few countries that has taken radical measures in the wildlife markets due to the corona pandemic.
After all, the number of protected animals is almost twice, and we welcome that first and foremost.
We hope and even believe that the new regulations will be respected by the people and authorities, and we are also hopeful that China will soon expand and improve its animal welfare.
But instead of criticizing China, we should ensure that our animal welfare law with its thousand pages of paper finally fulfills its function consistently and fairly for those for whom it was made, the animals.
My best regards to all, Venus