Combat Wildlife Crime - ChinaCombatting illegal wildlife trade in China
China passes revised Wildlife Protection Law
(Beijing, China – 3 January, 2023) Following a revision made in 2018, China's top legislature passed a revised Wildlife Protection Law (WPL) at the end of 2022. The revised law will come into effect on 1st May, 2023.
As the highest legislation guiding wildlife protection in China, the newly revised WPL incorporates several important matters. It includes the prevention of zoonosis spillover, the management of captive-bred wild animals, strengthening wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and further stipulating the responsibility of the private sector in wildlife crime prevention.
IFAW has been working closely with regulatory agencies and internet companies in China since 2008 to curb illegal wildlife trade enabled by the internet. IFAW has also been demonstrating top-standard wildlife rescue and rehabilitation through its Beijing Raptor Rescue Center which was jointly established with Beijing Normal University in 2001. More than 5600 raptors have been rescued since its establishment. BRRC has also been serving as a capacity-building center for thousands of professionals and front-line enforcers by organizing forums and trainings and providing on-the-job support. This work supports the revised law which calls on wildlife rescue agencies to establish professionally-equipped and better-resourced shelter and rescue facilities in an effort to improve wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in China.
“IFAW welcomes the inclusion of strengthening wildlife rescue in the new Law and looks forward to providing further support to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in China through BRRC and IFAW’s global Center of Excellence Initiative’. Said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW’s Senior Advisor for Asia affairs.
The new law also further clarifies the responsibility of private sectors, especially internet companies and the logistics industry. To urge internet platforms to adopt a zero tolerance policy against wildlife crime and strengthen platform regulation, the 2018 version of WPL already explicitly stipulate that it is prohibited for internet platforms to provide space for illegal selling and buying of wildlife products. In the revised WPL, the word “displaying” has been added to provide clearer legal ground for strengthened regulation and enforcement. Encouragingly, the new WPL also holds the logistics industry accountable for prohibiting shipping or delivering of illegal wildlife products.
IFAW and major internet giants including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu jointly established innovative initiatives to adopt cutting-edge technology in identifying illegal wildlife trade information online and encourage public participation in reporting infringing listings. Wildlife cybercrime is only feasible through facilitation of logistics services. Since 2019, IFAW has organized trainings for over 50 major logistics companies operating in China’s border provinces with high risk of trans-border illegal wildlife trade and has been developing educational materials for staff of these companies. The revised law will provide more solid ground for coordination among regulatory and enforcement agencies, private sectors and NGOs like IFAW.
Other key aspects of the revised WPL include extending exclusive identification management system to protected species other than state class I and II protected species, differentiate management of individuals of wild origin and captive bred and update protected species list every five year based on scientific evaluation.
“Laws and policies have no power without stringent enforcement,” said Gabriel. “IFAW urges detailed implementation measures to be developed soon to make sure the WPL can really be impactful for furthering wildlife conservation in China.”
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