A firefly viewing event in a park in Changsha, Hunan province was closed just two days into its 23-day run following strong objections from local environmental groups, illustrating the growing power of China’s firefly defenders.
The closure resulted from a public petition letter titled “I will not go to the tomb of the fireflies” (我不去萤火虫坟墓 ) co-authored by local animal protection organizations.
The letter began:
We’ve learned that a firefly-themed event is planned to open for the public from August 7 to August 30. According to the event organizers, tens of thousands of fireflies will appear at the show. They also claim that tourists can get very close to the insects.
As a group of local environmental-friendly NGOs, we protest against these acts of “playing foul with customers” and destroying the balance of the environment. We are calling on involved departments to carry out an investigation into the case and stop the program.
Song Ping, an official from Changsha Forestry Bureau said the event organizers failed to show any of the necessary authorized licenses for running the event like a wildlife feeding and breeding license, a wildlife business license and a certificate for wildlife transport.
The group’s letter went on to accuse the program of illegally capturing wild animals. Firefly specialist Fu Xinhua said that the cost of catching farmed fireflies is actually much higher than that of catching wild ones.
Therefore, Fu says, many sellers catch fireflies in the wild, but sell them saying they were caught on a farm. He explains that catching too many wild fireflies at one time can badly affect the insect’s reproduction cycle.
The letter also cited a memorable case last year where a mob of angry tourists stormed the management office of a resort in Hangzhou and began smashing doors and windows after the glowing insects failed to appear at a planned firefly show.
In the end, the organizers called off the program, extended their gratitude to the environment protectors and apologized to the Changsha residents, particularly, those who were hoping to enjoy the beautiful firefly spectacle.
Similar events which were planned to be held in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Qingdao and Nanchang, were all asked to halt due to similar complaints and criticism.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via CCTVNews // Weibo ]