China needs to get active and counter huge wildlife trade
September 09, 2012 00:00 By
Species depletion is an issue which affects everyone on the planet, so in effect, it's "everybody's business".
It’s not enough to have just one or two showcase species in a particular ecosystem, such as some pandas in China or some leopards in Africa. In order to survive, an ecosystem must have a complex web of animals and plants. When one looks at where animal parts, taken by poachers, wind up, it’s usually China. Granted there are other destinations, mostly in Eastern Asia, but China is the 600lb Panda in the “end user” department.
Chinese officialdom are making some efforts to try and stem the trade in endangered animal parts, but they could do more. If China devoted one hundredth the resources towards shutting down poachers and trafficking as it does to building its armed forces, the situation would improve. There also needs to be a perception-adjustment among Chinese people. It’s mostly the middle aged and elderly who are stuck in archaic thinking that; because an animal is fierce, it’s body parts, when ingested, enhance human sexually and prowess. It’s a primitive and false mindset, and it would render China a laughing stock, were it not for its serious implications.
Some examples, among many, which stand out: Tibetan antelope (or churo) in northern Tibet were numbered in the millions, a decade ago. Now their numbers are a fraction of that, primarily due to poachers who supply Chinese with its tiny horns, and others who crave its wool. Amur leopards and snow leopards are down to critically low numbers in the wild, but they too are being poached for similar reasons, for their bones and pelts. What’ll it take for Chinese consumers and authorities to give nearly extinct species a chance? For starters, Chinese folks need to enter the modern age of understanding that pulverised bones and horns don’t have any more sexual-enhancement effect than ground up fingernails or dog bone.