Tibetan antelope has finished this year’s migration season recently. Statistics from Sanjiangyuan National Park showed that a total of 4,860 antelopes were seen migrating back to their habitats, 338 more than the number in 2018.
A Class I state-protected animal, Tibetan antelope mainly inhabit the nature reserves in the provinces of the Tibetan plateau such as Xinjiang, Tibet, and Qinghai. Their mating season is around December and females will give birth in June or July after a gestation period of roughly 200 days. Every May, pregnant Tibetan antelopes migrate across the plateau to the calving ground near Zonag Lake in Hoh Xil, situated more than 4800m above sea level. The mothers will return to their original home with the newborns in August.
The Sanjiangyuan National Park Hoh Xil office conducts frequent and intensive patrols depending on the seasonal activities of animals. Besides, the park undergoes additional annual anti-crime campaigns to protect Tibetan antelope and other rare animals in Hoh Xil.
Thanks to China’s conservation efforts, Tibetan antelope’s habitat has been improving in recent years. According to conservation officers working in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, there was no evidence of poaching this year. They estimate that Tibetan antelope’s population had recovered to around 70,000 in the surrounding areas of Hoh Xil Natural Reserve since 2009 vs. less than 20,000 during the 1990s when poaching was rampant in this area.
On July 22, the public security bureau of forestry had a report from the local people that someone was hunting wild animals in Zhongbao, a town in Hubei, China. After investigation, the police arrested the criminal, Wang, who kept a dead tufted deer, 42 traps, and ten sets of steel wire in his home.
After interrogation, Wang admitted using hunting tools founded in his house to hunt wild animals. His behavior violated the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, and he was suspected of killing wildlife. Criminals convicted of such crime would have a three-year set term of imprisonment and a fine. Wang was arrested and detained by the local forest police on July 23. Now, the case is in process. To protect wildlife resources and the ecosystem, the local public security bureau started cracking down criminal exploitation of wildlife. Since then, the bureau had opened five criminal cases related to illegal behavior regarding wild animals.
Investigation in markets and restaurants
In a special operation to prevent wildlife trade and processing, the forest police cooperated with the market regulatory body to check on all local markets and restaurants. Individually, they investigated the side roads and touristy restaurants, especially the ones with “wildlife” advertisements and menus. In the meantime, the forest police cooperated with forestry and market authorities to comprehensively investigate wild animal farms, habitats, places with abundant wildlife, and high-risk places of poaching.
Furthermore, they allied with the traffic police, which checked on vehicles, passengers, and goods to investigate illegal wildlife trafficking. Criminals convicted of wildlife trafficking in China would face a five-year or ten-years set term of imprisonment, a fine, and confiscation of property.
So far, the forest police opened five wildlife’s criminal cases and seven wildlife administrative cases, arrested 12 criminals, called seven people into court, and confiscated 100 wild animals of diverse species.
A new member joins the hippo family of a zoo in Jinan, China.
On July the 7th, the Wild World Jinan joyfully announced that the hippo mother has successfully delivered a baby hippo at 5 am. From then on, the star couple of the animal world, hippos “Nan Nan” and “Fei Fei” has officially become a family of three.
The happy couple traveled across the ocean from South Africa to their current home, Wild World Jinan, in 2015. The two hippos were named “Nan Nan” and “Fei Fei” because their origin, South Africa, is pronounced as “Nan Fei” in Mandarin. Now, Nan Nan and Fei Fei are both adults at five years old.
The staff in charge of hippos said that the hippo calf was born on the bank after the mother reached the full term of pregnancy. The healthy newborn then moved into the pond. Though a first-time mother, Fei Fei made it through 240 days of gestation and now maintains a strong maternal instinct. Currently, she is focusing on taking care of the baby in the delivery room prepared by the staff. She has to stay close to her offspring to keep feeding it. The baby hippo will not start to eat grass until 4-6 months, and the mother will continue breastfeeding for almost a year. Since the baby hippo cannot get on the bank, for now, it is hard to determine its gender. The baby hippo will meet with visitors in the outdoor exhibition when it can feed on grass.
The gestation of hippos usually lasts eight months, and mothers only give birth to one calf at a time. Just before the birth of the baby, the mother will leave the herd alone. The baby is usually be born under water and will spend three to four weeks with the mother before returning to the herd. While all the female hippos will help with rearing the calf, the mother hippo will still holds the significant responsibilities of raising the calf. Hippos are social animals, and all the female hippos will stick together to protect their babies from any possible danger.
Nanjing has specially revised the design of a bridge to give way to the finless porpoises in the Yangtze River. The Yangtze finless porpoise is listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
In the upper reaches of the Nanjing section of the Yangtze River, a bridge has been planned to connect two districts of the city across the river.
At first, the bridge was designed to be a three-tower suspension bridge. The program aimed to minimize the impact on the finless porpoise, so only one tower was set up in the river. However, this design was eventually denied.
“To minimize the impact on the finless porpoise, we have adjusted the plan again with the design unit,” said Wei Chen, an engineer at the Nanjing Public Construction Center.
According to the adjusted design, the three-tower suspension bridge was changed to have two towers which would be placed on two islands in the river respectively. In other words, there would be no bridge tower in the middle of the river, which may affect the activity and habitat of the finless porpoise.
At the same time, the bridge line was moved from the edge of the core area of the Nanjing Yangtze Finless Porpoise Provincial Nature Reserve to the buffer zone outside.
After the revision, as the three towers become double towers, the span increases, and thus the corresponding investment amount and technical requirements would also increase.
The Nanjing Ministry of Ecosystem and Environment commented that scientific planning would yield the highest benefit. Indeed, it is difficult and costly for the modified bridge design plan to make way for the finless porpoise. Nevertheless, if any planning mistakes hinder the recovery of the finless porpoise population, a higher cost may be necessary to remedy the problems. At present, there are only more than a thousand finless porpoises in the Yangtze River, and their “critically endangered” status has not changed.
In the opinion of the Yangtze River Protection Volunteer and the president of the Yangzhou City Yangtze River Protection Association, Chen Yilin, giving finless porpoises precedence over the bridge is not only a sign of prioritizing ecological conservation over commercial development but also the only way for people to live in harmony with nature. “The Yangtze River has always been the common home of human and finless porpoise,” said Chen.
Since 2014, Nanjing has demolished and relocated all the production piers of between the city’s second and third bridges across the Yangtze River. The city also released more than 300 million fish hatchlings to increase the food source of the finless porpoise. Meanwhile, fishing in the river section below the Nanjing Third Yangtze Bridge in the protected area was banned entirely.
At present, it is the breeding season of the finless porpoise. Since March, many citizens have observed pairs of finless porpoises in the waters of the Nanjing section of Yangtze River.
On April 16, the exhibition center of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg hosted a Chinese wildlife photo exhibit named “Nature Image China”, a second show after the first exhibit in Moscow. This exhibit aroused the Russian public’s interest in Chinese wild animals, as well as China’s recent achievements in wildlife conservation.
Mrs. Tamara, the Russian director of the exhibition, said at the opening ceremony, “Nowadays, the only way to address the issue of wildlife protection is to cooperate with the neighbor country. This is why we think it is vital to showcase the activities of the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and the best works of Chinese photographers. Though this exhibit, visitors can get to know China—a lush and natural land full of wonder, they can know the life of the nation’s rarest wild animals, and learn about the scientific research and conservation work on the wild animals in China.”
Many Russian media reported the opening ceremony. The CWCA’s mission is to protect rare animals such as panda, golden monkey, South China tiger, Amur tiger, Crested Ibis and Baiji, most of which are close to extinction.
The CWCA regularly invites famous photographers both from China and aboard to take photos of the ecosystem and organisms in China. The images will be displayed with the title of “Nature Image China” and added to the CWCA’s other project, the China Natural Image Library.
Organized by the committee of the “Primitive Russia” Festival and the CWCA, this exhibition shows the works of 49 photographers from China and other countries. The exhibit is on view from April 16 to May 28.
The year 2019 is the “Year of Justifications for Pangolins” for the Pangolin Protection Working Group of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF). Recently, after years of hard work, the Pangolin Group was entrusted by the relevant authorities to rescue and treat some of the pangolins that had been seized by the customs.
The pangolin is currently the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world. To protect the pangolins, the Pangolin Group has been putting considerable effort into pangolin conservation for years.
The Pangolin Group aims to tackle illegal pangolin trafficking from multiple angles such as the frontline investigations of pangolin trafficking, requests for customs information disclosure, investigations of the medicinal use of pangolin products, illegal pangolin trade rescue operations, popularization of the science of pangolins, and speaking up about the issue on international platforms.
Due to some ancient misconceptions, China still has a substantial demand for pangolin products for both edible and medicinal purposes. In the early 1990s, pangolins native to China were hunted so much that the local pangolin population could no longer support the commercial demand. Since then, enormous numbers of pangolins and their products from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and even Africa have entered the Chinese market. According to a recent customs operation on March 29th this year, 103 live pangolins, 52 dead bodies, and 21.55 kilograms of scales were seized. The live pangolins would be in a worrying situation if they did not receive the care they needed on time.
For the emergency pangolin rescue operations, the Pangolin Group has sent staff to two regions, Guangxi and Yunnan, to select appropriate locations and establish rescue camps. At the same time, the staff has been actively communicating with both domestic and foreign experts to prepare for the rescue. Meanwhile, the Pangolin Group has also recruited on-site rescue volunteers and gathered information from the internet for potential locations for the camps. According to the leader of the Pangolin Group, appropriate camp locations must have necessary facilities, relatively convenient transportation, and forests with high numbers of termites nearby.
As of April 11, the Pangolin Group had found a suitable rescue camp location somewhere around Nanning City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The camp encloses a large forest and is only 3 kilometers away from an airport. Currently, the camp has been named the Nn041119PRC base. From now on, the Pangolin Group will be working vigorously to establish the second and the third rescue camp.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
China’s environmental groups have adopted March 1 as the International Seal Day. Like many international animal advocate groups, Chinese animal protection organizations are opposed to the commercial seal hunt in Canada.
Canada’s Commercial Seal Hunt Controversy
Canadian law prohibits people from interfering with the natural ecology of marine mammals such as seals. At the same time, however, the Canadian government has also approved the annual commercial killing of hundreds of thousands of seals, explicitly prohibiting the hunting of small seals with white fur and less than 12 days old.
People who support the commercial seal hunt say that the seals that Canadians mainly hunt are not endangered species, and the overproduction of seals may impact the ecosystem: if seals eat a lot of cod, the Canadian fishermen will lose cod resources. They stress that though seal hunting scenes tend to be bloody, Canadian seal hunting follows the highest standards of slaughter and fully satisfies the protection of animal welfare. They denied the existence of “live stripping seals” and “killing seal pups” accused by animal protectionists.
The voice against the commercial seal hunt is louder on a global scale. Animal advocates claim that 95% of the hunted seals were less than three months old because the seals are poor at swimming and foraging and reluctant to leave the ice, so they are more likely to be killed. Oceanographers who oppose the commercial killing of seals say that the reduction of Atlantic cod is associated with increased human fishing and has nothing to do with seals.
With the efforts of animal protectionists, 35 countries have
banned commercial seal trade. Since the 1970s, more than 30 countries and
regions including the United States, Mexico, Croatia, and the European Union
have banned the import of seal products and the consumption and trade of seal
fur. Because of consumer resistance, North American seal products are also
rare. However, in some Asian markets, seal products are still selling well.
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan Market
In 2011, news that the Federal Fisheries Department of
Canada announced a new trade agreement so that China would start to import
Canadian seal meat in the hopes that the Chinese market will compensate for the
EU’s ban on the importation of seal meat.
In addition to China’s large market, Canada’s commercial seal industry also strives to lobby Asian countries and regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan to import seal products.
However, under the resolute opposition of animal protection organizations from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and around the world, China does not seem to agree to open the world’s largest food and consumer goods market. The Chinese customs also imposed strict restrictions on seal products, but a trade ban has not been officially implemented. Hong Kong and Taiwan have also restricted the market for seal products from the government to consumers.