After uproar in China, rare animals to remain off the menu

Animal rights activists hail ban on consumption but seek more clarity on commercial use of wildlife

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 April, 2016, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 April, 2016, 11:47pm

A ban on eating or selling rare wildlife looks set to stay, following a public outcry over a planned amendment to the law.

A plan to update the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1998 had caused uproar when a draft amendment abandoned a clause stating that producing, selling or eating rare wildlife or related products were criminal acts.

But China’s top legislative body said yesterday that the clause would be reinstated into the draft amendment, China News Agency reported.

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When passed, the amendment will be the first since the Wildlife Conservation Act was passed in 1988. The NPC Standing Committee held a deliberation session on the first draft amendment in ­December.

An Xiang, director of Beijing Dexiang Law Firm, said the second draft showed authorities had responded to criticism that the amendment was too lax when the first draft was ­released.

“[To state clearly that eating rare wildlife is illegal] is a big step forward from the first draft that made an exception for hunting and eating rare wild animals for medicinal use,” An said.

The first draft stated that rare wild animals used for medicine or dietary supplements should “follow the related medicine, supplement or food ordinances”, but did not specify a ban.

Jeff He,,country director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) China said the new draft had proven the authorities’ resolve to deter people from eating rare wildlife.

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“But the revised law should state more clearly the ban on commercial use of wild animals, instead of just banning eating them,” He said.

Eating rare wild animals is regarded as a social custom and symbol of status in China.

Beijing classifies 420 species as rare or endangered, including giant pandas, golden monkeys, Asian black bears and pangolins.