Spring is here for migratory birds in China: authorities introduce action plan to protect birds better

Spring sees a large number of migratory birds gathering and flying north as well as a significant increase in crimes such as wild bird hunts and consumption. As the birds’ migration starts in China, it is a crucial time to combat wild-bird-related criminal activities. On March 14, China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration held a teleconference which reported the status quo of bird migration and developed a detailed action plan to enhance the protection of migratory birds and fight bird-related crimes such as poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade.

Chunliang Li, the deputy director of National Forestry and Grassland Administration, demanded that local authorities fight crimes systematically by regulating the source, distribution, and market of wild-bird-related illegal activity.

@Liu Bo

To reinforce the protection of the source of wild birds, local Forestry and Grassland Administration should intensify the patrol for main distribution areas of migratory birds and eliminate illegal hunting tools such as net and poison to prevent migratory-bird mortality from human interference.

Meanwhile, the management of birdwatching activity must be standardized. The public should be educated on healthy ways of birdwatching and bird photography. Any birdwatching activity in nature reserves without permission should be forbidden. In the core zone and buffer zone of nature reserves, no birdwatching or drone photography is allowed except for specific scientific research purposes. Chasing and catching birds to conduct “studio shots” are strictly banned in order not to disturb the normal activities of the birds.

Li encourages exploring applications of technology that improve the efficiency and frequency of patrol and surveillance, especially in areas with dense bird distribution and regions with poor conditions. At the same time, efforts should be made to eliminate blind spots. By doing so, they may provide evidence to help solve cases and punish criminal activities in a swift manner.

@Liu Bo

Li emphasized that every tier of the Administration should collaborate with related departments to strengthen the supervision on circulation and marketing in order to strike the illegal trade of migratory birds. Li also called a thorough cleansing of all artificial breeding sites of wild birds to prevent these spots from becoming processing plants, transfer stations or shelters of illegal wildlife trade.

Lastly, to totally cut off the interest chain of poaching, illegal trade, and smuggling, law enforcement effort must be improved in commercial businesses such as restaurants, bird-and-flower markets, raw material distribution centers, ports, and trade routes with a high rate of smuggling.

As e-commerce, express shipping, and social media have recently become new tools of illegal wildlife trade, Li also required subordinates to enhance surveillance of these platforms and to put relevant laws into practice.

Whooper swans on their migration route @Yi Nuo

All information comes from https://mp.weixin.qq.com/

Translated by Hengyu Du

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

Visiting the first state-of-the-art marine animal hospital in Hainan

In the Blue Ocean Conservation and Rescue Center, Li’an Port, Lingshui Li Autonomous County, Hainan Province, a huge hawksbill turtle is crawling slowly on the floor. A young woman in a white coat and a surgical mask, follows closely behind it, applying a healing salve to its broken shell. Her name is Yong Zheng, and she is the attending doctor of this special “patient.”

Yong Zheng (left) is applying treatment to the turtle’s shell @xinhuanet

Established in February 2018 with an investment of 40 million RMB (roughly 6 million USD) by the Hainan R&F Properties, the Blue Ocean Conservation and Rescue Center was the first fully-functional marine animal hospital in Hainan. The Center has two functional areas: the quarantine area and the veterinary hospital which was called “state-of-the-art” because of its complete equipment and advanced technology. So far, the Center has rescued and released dozens of marine animals such as hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and horseshoe crabs.

“An unfortunate encounter with a whale contributed to the establishment of the center.” Yang Chunlei, the Center’s manager, recalled with emotion. In 2016, a pilot whale was stranded on the beach. Despite more than 20 hours of continuous rescue, the whale died of respiratory failure. “If we had more local professional treatment areas and equipment, the tragedy might be avoided.”

Pilot whales in the wild – pilot whales are actually a member of the dolphin family.
© Fabian Ritter / MEER e.V.

The “attending doctor”, Yong, has a master’s degree in animal ecology and traveled to Taiwan and Hong Kong to learn about marine animal rescue.

Yong applied Vaseline to the hawksbill turtle’s shell to protect the affected area from water. Then, the nurse brought her a thin green turtle. “It was sent to us by local fishermen five months ago. I don’t know how many days and nights it spent trapped in the fishing net. When it first came, it weighed less than 7 kilograms.” Said Yong while gently inserting a homemade feeder into the throat of the green turtle. She started feeding it with fresh minced fish.

“It was lucky to have made it, and now it has grown to 9 kilograms.” Yong stroked the turtle like a doting parent. The turtle was all skins and bones when it arrived, and the staff could not even find its blood vessels. However, it still placed its forelimbs on the pool to receive injections. Its desire for life inspired people to help it return to the sea.

Yong is using medical instruments for lesion analysis. @xinhuanet

“The Center is setting up a conservation fund to do population surveys of local wild animals and public education. The center will become an advocate for more public participation in the conservation and rescue work of marine animals.” Yang Chunlei said.

All information comes from www.sohu.com

Translated by Andrea Jia

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

Eight Asian internet companies joined the “Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online”

On March 6, the first anniversary of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online (referred to as “the Coalition”), the director of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration of China, Wu Zhimin, stated that the issue of online trafficking of endangered species has become a common challenge faced by countries around the world, and internet enterprises will play a more prominent role in the protection of endangered species.

“The Coalition has used technology to establish a network to strike online illegal wildlife trade. They have used responsibility, technology and innovation to eliminate hiding places for wildlife smugglers.” IFAW Asia Representative, Ge Rui, said.

On the day of the anniversary, eight internet companies including Sina Weibo, Yachang Art Network, Sogou Search, Hantang Collection Network, China Antiques Network, Turtle Friends, Kupatana from Tanzania and Sapo from Vietnam announced to join the Coalition.

Members of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online
@The Paper

On March 7th, 2018, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC), along with 21 internet companies, established the Coalition in San Francisco, USA. The Coalition aims to create a new internet environment where illegal wildlife smugglers have no place to escape.

Since the establishment of the Coalition, member companies have been actively promoting enforcement of legislation, exploring the application of new technologies to filter and remove illegal information, and raising users’ awareness of protecting wildlife against illegal trade.

In the past year, Chinese internet companies deleted and blocked at least one million pieces of illegal wildlife advertisements and trading information. A considerable number of unlawful accounts were removed, and the time-efficiency of investigating reported information increased significantly. For example, Tecent’s security department handed over reported evidence to the local law enforcement which later destroyed a gang of over 200.

The founder and the CEO of Beijing Wenwan Tianxia Co., Ltd., Chi Rui, said that as one of the earliest companies to join the Coalition, the staff have been threatened and personally attacked while blocking illegal wildlife trade information. The company believes that they should not only delete accounts and block information but also help people find better replacements of wildlife products.

“Carving is part of the traditional culture of China. And some fruit cores can replace ivory and rhino horns. Seeking better alternatives is part of our next step forward.” Chi Rui said.

All information comes from www.thepaper.cn

Translated by Dule

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

Hong Kong Government will introduce more measures for animal welfare and animal protection

The Hong Kong Government attaches great importance to animal welfare and will introduce more measures for both animal welfare and animal protection, according to Professor Sophia Chan, JP, the Secretary for Food and Health Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Professor Chan brought her own pet dog to the first Friends, Families & Pooches “Pawty” and “People and Dogs City Directional Charity Tournament” hosted by the Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA(HK)). In her speech at the opening ceremony, Professor Chan said that in addition to letting dog lovers gather together and feel the deep friendship between people and dogs, these activities also have animal-related parent-child workshops to promote the message of treating animals kindly and the human-dog bond.

@SPCA(HK)

She also said that this is in line with the HK Government’s goal of promoting animal welfare and ensuring that people and animals can coexist harmoniously in the community. In 2019, the Hong Kong Police Force is introducing an “Animal Protection Community Ambassador” project, which focuses on the power of animal lovers and different community groups, raises the public awareness of the prevention of cruelty to animals, helps fight brutal animal abuse, and educates the public to be responsible pet owners.

Professor Chan also indicated that the authorities are planning to expand the scope of the animals covered under the Road Traffic Ordinance in respect of traffic accidents involving injured animals, in which the related driver are required to pull over. The HK Government has conducted initial consultations. Some citizens think that the Ordinance covers too few animals and they think that more types of animals such as monkeys should be covered in the Ordinance.

All information comes from www.chinanews.com

Translated by Jiaxuan Han

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

After the blizzard in Yushu Prefecture, locals are working hard to save the wildlife

An ecological conservator, Pema, of China’s Three-River-Source National Park recently became an internet sensation in China. Photos show Pema, aged 54, crossing a freezing river with a basket of fodder grass on his back to feed the white-lipped deer and bharal (Himalayan blue sheep) on the opposite bank.

Pema and his coworker are transporting grass fodder. @Xinhuanet.com

Pema’s village lies in an area with the highest degree of biodiversity on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Dzato County of the Qinghai Yushu Prefecture. In the past few weeks, several counties near this area have been struck by a blizzard. Due to the snow coverage and persisting cold weather, the wild animals in Yushu are facing the plight of food shortage. Hundreds of wild animals have been found dead.

According to the ecological conservation manager of the Three-River-Source National Park, an investigation was launched in Zaduo County to check the condition of wild animals. The manager indicated that the animals either froze or starved to death and disease has been ruled out as a cause.

These bharal blue sheep froze to death in the snowstorm.

To save wild animals, the government has appropriated 300,000 yuan (approximately $44,800 USD) as a special fund for the protection of wildlife. The fund is mainly used to transport about five tons of stored grass fodder along a 40-kilometer range daily to feed animals. More than 80 conservation workers like Pema are taking part in this rescue mission of the wild animals.

Workers are distributing grass fodder for transportation.

“Wild animals are the fairies of Three-River-Source National Park. It’s my sworn duty to protect them,” said Pema.

“The darkness of disaster highlights the brightness of human’s love. Many local herders also have sheltered injured or starved animals. The government and the people are working together to ameliorate the wildlife casualties,” said the vice manager of the Lancang-River Area of the Three-River-Source National Park.

Workers remove snow from the highway.

All information comes from www.qh.xinhuanet.com

Translated by Hengyu Du

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

The Initial Stage of the WWF Snow Leopard Survey Project is a Success

From August 2018 to January 2019, the Tianshan Eastern Forest Administration of Xinjiang province collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Snow Leopard Protection Project to carry out a four-month winter snow leopard survey in the eastern Wusu administration area. The investigation has brought some great news.

The Eastern Wusu Branch is in the middle of the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains, covering 150 kilometers from east to west and 10 kilometers from north to south. It is one of the largest government-owned forests in the Tianshan Mountains.

Since the WWF Snow Leopard Project started in the Eastern Tianshan Mountains in August 2018, a series of training programs and field practices in Wusu have been conducted, and a team of Wusu ecological management inspectors has been assembled. A total of 60 infrared camera traps were set up near traces of snow leopard activities (marking, footprints, scat), covering an area of 550 km2, almost 10 times the size of Manhattan.

The habitat of snow leopards at Wusu | Photo Credit: Bing He WWF China

During the winter field survey, the staff found multiple fresh snow leopard footprints, scrapings, and feces. A total of 417 photos and videos were successfully captured by the 25 retrieved infrared cameras, yielding a capture rate of over 80%. It has been fully confirmed that the Wusu forest area is an extremely important snow leopard habitat in the Tianshan Mountains.

The staff has also witnessed the activities of other animals in the wild, which played an important role in establishing the local Biodiversity Database. The ecosystem in this region shows a typical change in vegetation with increasing altitude. The constantly changing vegetations form many transition zones, contributing to the high level of biodiversity in the region.

The footprints of snow leopard found in the wild
Photo Credit: Chong Huang WWF China

It is worth noting that infrared cameras have also captured snow leopards in low-altitude forest areas, yet most scientists believe that snow leopards only inhabit mountain loess (fine-grained clay or silt), meadows, and sparse woodlands. This discovery is of great importance since it shows that snow leopards have strong adaptability in the Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang.

All information comes from www.wwfchina.org

Translated by Dule

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

The welfare of donkeys in China is highly recognized by international animal welfare experts

How to maintain the balance between animal welfare and productivity and maximize animal welfare in the commercial farming process is an important topic for international animal welfare organizations. To this end, experts from the World Farm Animal Welfare Association, the Donkey Sanctuary, and the China Agricultural International Cooperation Promotion Association went to Dong’e Ejiao in August 2018 to conduct site visits to investigate the farmed donkeys’ welfare and discuss how to improve welfare and create more comfortable “homes” for donkeys. Dong’e Ejiao is a company that produces a type of condensed gelatin called “Ejiao” from donkey skin. In traditional Chinese medicine, Ejiao is used to improve the immune system and treat anemia.

Dr. Karen Rickards, an expert of welfare standard assessments at the British Welfare Association, spoke highly of Dong’e Ejiao’s efforts in improving donkey welfare. “The welfare of Dong’e Ejiao is very good in general and it is even better than those in the UK in some aspects such as providing sand pits for the donkeys.”

Dong’e Ejiao Welfare is also highly recognized by Stephen DeRoz, a professor of Small Animal and Horse Breeding in the Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Belgium.

As early as August 2017, at the First International Donkey Industry Development Academic Exchange Meeting, more than 400 experts from 16 countries gathered in Dong’e Ejiao to discuss the frontier topics in the development of the donkey industry and animal welfare.

Dong’e Ejiao advocates the rational use of animal products while protecting animals based on the principle of “common but differentiated.” It believes that the trade of animal products has its rationality and legitimacy, but at the same time, people should severely crack down on the illegal slaughter of smuggled animals and their biological products.

Not only the welfare of the donkeys has drawn a lot of attention, but the welfare of other animals has also received extensive attention and emphasis in China with remarkable results. At present, the world’s largest and most widely participated animal welfare conference, the 2nd World Farm Animal Welfare Conference, was successfully held in Beijing on October 24, 2018.

Modern food production conflicts with animal welfare. If there is no human interference, animals are in a natural state of welfare. If humans managed the animals properly, such as providing sufficient food and water, keeping them out of the attack of hunters, rendering medical care, and paying attention to their health conditions, then their productivity will increase and the animal welfare would be maximized. We need to reach a balance between animal welfare and productivity in the natural state to maximize animal welfare in commercial farming.

All information comes from news.html5.qq.com

Translated by Jiaxuan Han

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

Chinese NGO Suggests An Upgrade of the Protection Status of Pangolin to Class I

The pangolin is a small ant-eating mammal found in Asia. Its skin is covered completely with keratin scales, which are in huge demand in China.
Photo Credit: Visual China Group

“It’s an important time for us to strengthen the protection for pangolin,” China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) claimed in its proposal suggesting a conference for the Chinese annual meeting of Parliament. It suggested raising pangolin’s protection status to Class I and abolishing medicinal uses of pangolin scales.

According to the suggestion, pangolin, though listed as a Class II protected animal in China, is still considered the “hottest” mammal in the global illegal trade. Such popularity is due to the great market demand for pangolin’s nutritional and medicinal values, which generate a huge economic benefit.

In the past decade, at least 1 million pangolins were subjected to poaching and illegal trade. Experts predicted that the pangolin species will become extinct worldwide within 5 to 10 years if we did nothing to protect them.

China is one of the biggest destination countries for the illegal pangolin trade. According to a report by TRAFFIC in 2016 (with incomplete data from 2007 to August 2016), Chinese law enforcement had handled 209 illegal trading cases involving pangolin, which meant nearly 90,000 pangolins had been killed and smuggled in illegally.

The horrible number of illegal trades comes from the huge market demand for and profitability of pangolins. Even some local government officials are among the consumers of pangolins. In 2015, a Chinese local official ate pangolin meat in a private feast, which was exposed to the public 2 years later and caused great outrage on the Internet.

Alongside the nutritional value, the healing properties of pangolin scales are also what people are after. However, since 2012, there is plenty of evidence in studies of modern Chinese medicine showing that pangolin scales are mainly made of keratin, which renders their medicinal value highly questionable.

All information comes from www.jiemian.com

Translated by Hengyu Du

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

Chinese chicken manufacturer recognized for their commitment to chicken welfare

In June 2018, the Jiangsu Lihua Animal Husbandry Co. received the Five-Star Good Chicken Production Award from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) for their commitment to chicken welfare. Since 2014, CWIF had partnered with the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW) to award Chinese farms according to criteria that equated to stars, and five stars represented the highest achievement in farm welfare. The company became the only manufacturer in Jiangsu Province to receive the award for their high standards. 

The leading brand of chicken meat from the company is called Xueshan (Snow Mountain) Chicken, which is a new type of grass chicken that has been carefully bred by scientists using the high-quality Tibetan chicken and Yunnan Camellia chicken as the primary parent stock. 

Dr. Yuan Qingyan from the company’s technical department explained, “Xueshan Chicken has been selected and bred through many generations. This type of chicken is characterized by their wild nature.” Catering to the chicken’s nature, the housing of the Xueshan Chicken has a natural litter of rice husk as bedding, and is designed to be semi-open with perches. Dr. Yuan has been working in the company for 11 years since she joined Lihua in 2007.

“Chickens naturally enjoy jumping around and resting on perches. Our special perch has earned the Utility Model Patent,” said Dr. Yuan. “Besides, we built large fields with a sand bath area. Chickens can grow in a large area, and they have more opportunity to run around freely and exercise, which improves the meat quality. These chickens are adept at running and flying, and some can even hop up into a tree.”

Dr. Yuan also addressed, “The chicken house environment is controlled to provide a comfortable place for chickens. The daily temperature variation in the chicken house is reduced in the winter. In the summer, the house can be kept very cool.”

The technical regulations for raising Xueshan Chicken in Lihua have been regarded as local farming standards by the Jiangsu government. “The chickens in this system are rarely sick. Accordingly, the amount of medicine used is also reduced, and the food safety is greatly improved.” Dr. Yuan said.

All information comes from js.china.com

Translated by Dule

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

A rare black wolf was confirmed to exist in China for the first time

Recently, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) photographed a very rare female black wolf in Sanjiangyuan National Parkduring a water bird survey conducted with in the Yellow River Source Area. This is the first time that this species has been recorded in this area, confirming the existence of the black wolf in the wild in China.

The wolf had pure blackbodyand white edges on the lips, which was drastically different from the deep yellow and grey fur of the common grey wolf. Li, a survey member who photographed the black wolf, recalled that the black wolf was found on the Gobi Desert, where the surveyteamtracked the black wolf for more than 30 minutes. During this period, the black wolf attempted to hunt Tibetan gazelle and pika, and she eventually went farther into a dry river bed.

The black fur of the wolf is coded by a recessive gene, which is more common in wolves in North America, but very unusual in Asia. Scientists and front-line workers have occasionally heard accounts ofblack wolves from herdsmen, butthere is almost norecorded image data. Hence, the black wolf image taken this time is incredibly precious.

@Baoyu Wei from WWF China

Dr. John Mackinnon, a world-renowned biodiversity conservation scientist, confirmed that this was a black wolf after reviewing the images taken by the investigation team. According to Dr. Mackinnon, since the Sanjianyuan area is open and often covered by snow, wolves with the dominant trait of light-colored fur have better chances at survival, and the percentage of the recessive black-fur gene is very low within the wolf population. For a wolf to have black fur, both parents need to possess the recessive black-fur gene, which is an event of extremely low probability. Therefore, the rare occurrence of a black wolf may suggest the population in Sanjiangyuan is in very good shape in terms of reproduction. 

Dr. Jie Xie, an associate researcher at the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also believes that this discovery is of great significance and substantial value to the study of wolves in China. She hopes this information can lead more scholars to conduct in-depth research on Chinese wolves, and she also hopes it will help increase the strength of protection from the public and relevant institutions.

All information and photos come from WWF China

Translated by Jiaxuan Han

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue