Funding increased to protect species at risk

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am

The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation has announced a record annual budget of HK$5.63 million to expand and diversify its project to preserve endangered species like freshwater turtles and pangolins.

These two species are under threat from excessive hunting and illegal traders who prey on them to make Chinese medicine and food.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said 6,478 pangolins were illegally imported last year, all as carcasses.

Some 652 freshwater turtles were illegally imported last year, four of them carcasses.

The project objectives include research on nutrition, housing, rehabilitative veterinary care, and captive management guidelines to reduce the mortality rate of the confiscated pangolins.

Suzanne Gendron, director of the foundation, urged the public to be wise consumers in saving endangered wildlife like the three-banded box terrapin and the pangolin, both of which are facing extinction because of the huge demand for them in traditional Chinese medicine.

She suggested the public could 'give them a break for a few years' to recover by looking for substitutes.

The expanded funding, a 12 per cent increase compared with the total funding from 2006 to 2007, will cover 50 projects on the conservation of marine mammals, giant pandas, reptiles, terrestrial mammals, birds and seahorses, and on the rehabilitation of Hong Kong's coral reefs.

Vanishing industry

The number of freshwater turtles illegally imported since 2004: 4,401