China has passed a new law in hopes of protecting endangered animals from winding up on someone’s dinner plate. The ban restricts certain animals from being sold for consumption, yet controversially still allows the sale of these animals as products.
In the past, China’s wildlife policies have frequently come under scrutiny for failing to effectively regulate the exploitation and sale of endangered animals. While state media has touted this long-awaited provision, environmental activists have voiced their concerns that simply restricting the sale of endangered animals as food, while nice and all, does not nearly suffice.
The law still allows for the captive breeding of endangered animals, as well as the sale and purchasing of products from these animals, as long as permission is granted by relevant authorities.
So, instead of clarifying things, this new law has created a rather grey area for our woodland friends. How to tell if an animal is being sold to eat or to wear? How to distinguish if one has been bred rather than captured from the wild? And how exactly is permission granted anyway?
China already hosts a booming business in the captive breeding of endangered animals. While some of these do wind up on the table for the dinner, many others are being used in traditional Chinese medicine. TCM practitioners believe that without the genuine endangered animals their concoctions will lose their effect.
So, while this new law could mean less giant salamanders on the menu, it’s still not great news for most things that live in the wild, like owls.
By Robin Winship