The population of some snake species has plummeted in the past decade and, along with leopard cats, they might become extinct if they were not protected, forestry officials have warned.
The cobra population has fallen 90 per cent, and the common rat snake has seen its numbers drop 75 per cent, Xinhua reported, citing a national wildlife survey.
State Forestry Administration officials said population and economic growth had reduced and fragmented the living space for wildlife, while pollution had degraded habitat quality.
Another cause for the dramatic decline was over-hunting, it said.
Despite the ban on hunting snakes for consumption, officials said many of the reptiles sold for eating had been caught in the wild.
The administration will protect wildlife habitats, link up fragmented habitats and establish no-hunting zones.