Chinese wildlife consumption on the rise

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11 Nov 2008
 
Beijing, China: The consumption of threatened species is on the rise in China again following a brief hiatus owing to fears surrounding the SARS virus in 2003.
 
A survey of five southern Chinese cities by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, found that 13 of 25 markets and 20 of 50 restaurants had wild animals for sale. A total of 56 species were found and, of these, eight are protected under Chinese law and 17 are protected under CITES, which prohibits or strictly controls international trade.
 
The majority of illegal wild animal trade was in freshwater turtles and snakes. In China, freshwater turtles and snakes are sold mostly for their meat and for medicinal purposes.
The findings are included in the TRAFFIC report entitled The State of Wildlife Trade in China in 2007, published today. Also found by the report is the fact that Chinese traditional medicine trade is growing rapidly and that China is the world’s second largest wood importer.
 
“The report examines the impact China’s consumption is having on biodiversity and what emerging trends there are in wildlife trade,” said Professor Xu Hongfa, co-ordinator of TRAFFIC’s China Programme.
 
The report notes that that while Russia is currently the top supplier of wood to China, Africa increasingly accounts for a growing percentage which is stimulating illegal timber trade in Africa.
 
“Chinese companies buying African timber must ensure the benefits of the timber trade are equitably shared, right down to the African rural communities on whose land the trees are growing,” said Professor Xu.
 
Chinese traditional medicine trade has grown at an annual rate of 10 per cent since 2003. Most exports ($687 million-worth) go to Asia, but Europe ($162 million) and North America ($144 million) are increasingly important markets.
 
Over-harvesting and poor management of resources are looming threats, and currently there are no standards to ensure the sustainable collection of wild medicinal plants.
 
“The trends seen in this report that show increasing demand in wildlife products and diminishing supply should be a wake-up call for law enforcement, policy makers and consumers,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International’s Species Programme.
 
“We call upon Chinese authorities to enhance enforcement and public education efforts, to stop illegal trade and reduce consumption of threatened species from around the world.”
One bright spot for China is the fact that the illegal ivory trade is declining. The report found that the situation has improved since a year earlier, with surveys showing a substantial reduction in the number of outlets selling ivory illegally.
 
“The reduction in the illegal ivory trade is very welcome, but we urge the authorities to remain vigilant, particularly to ensure there is no laundering of illegal ivory,” said Professor Xu.
 
The report is the second in an annual series on emerging trends in China’s wildlife trade, and provides up-to-date reviews of work being carried out to prevent illegal and support sustainable trade in China.
 
Other issues examined in the report include the illegal trade in musk, the link between the sea cucumber trade to Taiwan with marine biodiversity in the Galapagos, and links between Russian salmon fisheries and Chinese markets
 
http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/species/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=149941
Keywords:  tiger, snow leopard
 
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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at https://bigcatrescue.org
 
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