Chinese legislature moves to criminalize buying and consumption of endangered animals

The proposed bill from the Chinese legislature would protect tigers and other endangered species from commercial slaughter.According to a new bill presented to the standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) this week, eating endangered animals or even buying them for other purposes would break criminal law and perpetrators would face substantial jail terms. Current criminal law bans hunting of endangered species, but fails to adequately punish consumers, who fuel illegal hunting.

IFAW supports this proposal and commends the legislature’s willingness to act to protect animals. This is great news for tigers, Asiatic black bears, elephants and pangolins.

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Lang Sheng, deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, was quoted in telling lawmakers that wildlife consumption was not only bad social conduct but also a main reason why illegal hunting has not been stopped despite repeated crackdowns. “Buyers are a major motivator of large-scale illegal hunting,” Lang said.

The bill comes a couple of weeks after Chinese media reported that sixteen members of a gang alleged to have slaughtered more than 10 captured tigers over the years were arrested in Zhanjiang. The perpetrators were putting on a show for wealthy businessmen and government officials who apparently enjoy watching a tiger slaughtered in the open before they cooked and ate it. According to the report, police raided a Leizhou residence on March 14 and found 16 people slaughtering a tiger.

The carcass of the tiger, believed to have been captured in Vietnam and shipped alive to China, was seized by police, who also found black market tiger derivatives and weapons probably used to capture the big cats, including stun guns. In addition to wildlife trade of traditional remedies and exotic delicacies to wealthy customers and local officials, a secret trade has been supplying fat cats with blood sport entertainment, according to the Southern Daily. The report said private businessmen would often pay for the officials to attend such events.

We’ve always been aware of Chinese bureaucrats’ fondness for giving and receiving exotic gifts made from animal products, but this makes it clear that the cruelty has reached an entirely new level. This must stop. We must keep pushing to change the culture in Chinese business and government circles that animal cruelty is not an acceptable aspect of doing business. Perhaps it is difficult to make an emotional case to people, say, consuming a soup that contains fins of endangered animals. Making a case to stop this ridiculous blood sport is not.


For more information about IFAW efforts in China, visit our campaign page.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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