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China: Around The Nation

Protected trees damaged in China to make ‘anti-cancer wine’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 August, 2017, 12:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 August, 2017, 12:17pm

Four trees from a protected species in China were badly damaged and may die after their bark was stripped to make an “anti-cancer wine”.

The Chinese yew trees, thought to be up to 60 years-old, were damaged in Ruyan county in Guangdong province, the Yangcheng Evening News reported.

“If someone is seen stripping the tree bark we will for sure get rid of them, but if it happens at night, there’s really nothing we can do,” villager Wen Hechang, 87, was quoted as saying.

The Chinese yew is known for its slow growth and it was made a protected species in 1999.

The species is vulnerable as some mistakenly believe that compounds extracted from its bark and leaves can help cure cancer. Prolonged consumption can, in fact, be poisonous.

Forestry officials have sterilised the tree trunks, wrapped them in film and injected nutrients inside, but the measures have so far proven unsuccessful.

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Police are investigating the damage to the trees.

Damaging or logging endangered trees can lead to three year jail terms in China.

A man who cut down a Chinese yew in Lechang in the same area of Guangdong province was given a suspended jail sentence and fined 3,000 yuan (US$445) three years ago.