IFAW Applauds China for Banning Wild Animals from Official Dinner Tables

Monday, 9 December, 2013
Beijing, China

The Chinese Government yesterday issued a ban ruling out serving dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and other wild animal products at official reception dinners.

The ban is part of a sweeping government crackdown on corruption, excessive spending and extravagance and was announced by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council. “Obviously, the Chinese government is powerful and if it takes the lead on wildlife conservation, there will be a significant decline in demand and supply for wildlife products in China,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW.

“IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org.cn) applauds the government’s decision to ban the serving of these wildlife products at official functions and believes it will have a significant impact in reducing the demand and consumption of wildlife parts and products in general.”

Every year, over 100-million sharks are killed for their fins and tens of thousands of elephants are slaughtered to meet the demand for ivory. In just four years (2007-2011), rhino poaching has multiplied by 30 times in South Africa, while in Asia tiger populations have dropped from 100,000 individuals to about 3,000 in the past century.

“Unfortunately, China is always considered as one of the world’s largest markets for the wildlife trade, and is thus largely responsible for the rapid decline of  endangered species.” said Gabriel.

In a recent survey conducted by Rapid Asia 60 percent of Chinese people said the most compelling reason for them to stop buying ivory would be if ivory buying was made illegal in all circumstances. This reason would also be made even more compelling if backed up by a strong recommendation from a government leader.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in February 2013 a decision to ban shark fin soup from official banquets during a nationwide government austerity campaign led to shark fin orders declining by 70 per cent during the week-long Spring Festival in China.

“China is stepping up its efforts to achieve ecological civilization. China’s soft power could be built by shutting down wildlife markets, increasing penalties for wildlife crime and condemning wildlife consumption.” said Gabriel, “We hope a wider ban of this kind will be applied to other endangered wildlife products from luxury gifting and collections as well.”

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