On September 20th, the Public Security Bureau of Jingjia County of Shijiazhuang City, together with the local police station, patrolled the surrounding mountain area and determined to strengthen the local wildlife protection force further.
The county situates in the deep mountainous area of Ceyu and borders two provinces and five counties. The area is densely forested, and there are various wild species. Some of the local wild animals, such as boars, lynxes, foxes, and hares, have severely damaged the villagers’ crops. As a result, some locals have been hunting them down with hatred, and some locals also hunt them for the profit of wildlife products.
Starting from June this year, the campaign “Drawing the Sword 2019” has brought the local police station to pay special attention to wildlife crimes.
During the campaign, the police conducted in-depth surveys on 19 villages, educating the local people about wildlife and raising their awareness of protecting wildlife resources. Examples of locals convicted of wildlife crimes facing punishment were used to explain the laws. The locals are also encouraged to report suspected wildlife crimes. The policemen carefully patrolled and investigated the local food industry, collected intelligence from multiple sources, and followed after the information to track down the traffickers.
The police station has so far removed a total of 25 hunting clips, one set of fishing nets, and electric fish tools, further eliminating the hidden dangers that are endangering local wildlife.
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.
On June 4, one day before World Environment Day, Shaanxi Higher People’s Court published five landmark environmental legal cases on its website. The case in which two men killed a crested ibis with slingshots caught people’s attention. The two defendants were sentenced to 10 years’ and eight years’ prison respectively for illegal hunting and killing of rare and endangered wild animals with aggravating circumstances.
According to the records from China Judgements Online, on June 1, 2016, defendants Hao and Feng shot a sizeable white bird near a river in Yaoyu Village, Yaozhou District, disregarding a passing villager’s warning that the bird is protected by law and he would report their actions to the police. The white bird screamed while running on the grass. After shooting the bird a second time with the slingshot, Feng wrapped the bird with his clothes and took the bird into the car.
On their way back, Feng noticed the bird was wearing a foot ring with code. For fear of being investigated, Feng threw the injured bird into the river. Hao complained that they could have stewed and eaten the bird after hearing that the bird was thrown away.
Later, the white bird was found and taken to the local Wildlife Conservation and Management Station by the workers there. However, the rescue failed, and the bird died. The bird was identified as a crested ibis, a species on the State Protection List. The cause of death was a human attack, which caused severe injuries in the bird’s neck and chest, as well as fractures in its left wing with excessive bleeding.
The local People’s Court held the trial of Feng and Hao and ruled that they deliberately shot a crested ibis, which is under the state’s special protection, with a slingshot, and abandoned the injured bird instead of rescuing it, leading to its death. Their action constitutes the crime of illegal hunting and killing of rare and endangered wild animals, and the circumstances of their crimes are severe, according to the court. Feng was convicted of illegal hunting and killing of rare and endangered wild animals and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, with a 3,000 yuan fine. Hao was convicted of the same crime and sentenced to eight years imprisonment, with a 3,000 yuan fine.
The two defendants filed an appeal against the sentencing. The local People’s Court held a retrial and subsequently rejected the appeal, upholding the original judgment.
According to Shaanxi High People’s Court, the crested ibis is one of the least abundant bird species in the world. It is under special state protection with high ecological, social, and cultural values. The People’s Court’s sentence for the two defendants reflected the principle to prosecute environmental crimes severely, highlighted the independent status of the environmental law, and achieved the deterrence and educational purpose of the law. Such a case would have a profound impact on wildlife conservation and the maintenance of ecological security.
In response to the media release of the case, many netizens commented that the defendants deserve the criminal charges as crested ibis is an endangered species. However, some also questioned the severity of the sentence for shooting one bird.
According to the High People’s Court, killing one crested ibis will be regarded as “especially severe” when determining the severity of cases of illegally catching, killing, purchasing, transporting or selling wild animal species under special state protection.
According to Article 341 of Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, if the protected species was rare or near extinction, any person who catches, kills, illegally purchases, transports or sells the species and their products shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of no more than five years or criminal detention and concurrently be punished with a fine. If the circumstances are severe, the offender shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of five to ten years with a fine. If the circumstances are especially severe, the offender shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than ten years and concurrently be sentenced with a fine or confiscation of property.
Ankang is a city in Shaanxi Province, Northwest China. It has a beautiful ecological environment and a wide variety of rare wild animals. A few days ago in Ankang, an owlet was caught in torrential rain. Fortunately, it received timely assistance from a good Samaritan.
According to Mr. Xie, the concerned citizen who helped the owlet, he found the owlet cowering on the side of the road. It was particularly windy that day, so he speculated that the owl might have fallen from the tree and become injured. Worried about the bird’s safety, Mr. Xie quickly brought the owlet to the local police station. The police then brought the owlet to the Wildlife Rescue Station of the Ankang Natural Forest Protection Center at once.
“After inspection, the owlet did not sustain any injuries, but it was still too young to fly. We would send it to the Bird Garden for the time being until it could return to the wild,” said Zhou Liping, the director of the Wildlife Rescue Station, “the professional rescue staff would take care of the owlet and then return it to nature.”‘Zhou told the reporter that the public’s awareness of wildlife protection had been gradually increasing. The city’s Wildlife Rescue Station receives five or six comparable cases every month.
Zhou advised the general public to take special care when helping wildlife. “If you found a wild animal with no noticeable abnormalities, try not to disturb it, and do not try to catch it. It may simply be resting. If you try to catch it, it might get hurt. If a wild animal has an obvious injury, such as a broken wing and a scratched body, you can send it to the local police station, or you can call our helpline directly, and we will help.”
To promote the wildlife protection, the Wildlife Rescue Station of the Ankang Natural Forest Protection Center has held many outreach activities such as “Love Birds Week” and “Spring of Science and Technology” this year.
As of June this year, the Wildlife Rescue Station has received more than 20 rescue calls from the public, and more than 20 wild animals have been rescued and released. Among them, there were national first-class protected animals such as the crested ibis and golden eagle.
A super rare albino panda was spotted in the Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve. This panda’s white hair, white claws, and red eyes had us wondering, did it forget to wear its natural black vest and smoky eye makeup? Or did it have such an excellent night’s sleep that it lost the signature dark circles around the eyes?
A wild infrared trigger camera captured the albino panda passing through the lush forest at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level. The picture clearly shows the unique morphological characteristics of this giant panda.
Based on these external features on the photo, experts concluded that the panda is an albino individual. Judging from the size, this is a sub-adult or young panda, about 1 to 2 years old.
According to Li Sheng, member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Bear Specialist Group and researcher at the Peking University School of Life Sciences, the phenomenon of “albinism” is found in various groups of vertebrate animals, but they are rare and usually due to genetic mutations. The bodies of albino individuals do not synthesize melanin, a dark pigment, so they appear white, yellowish white or pale yellow.
Missing pigments means that the animal is more likely to be found in the environment, and their body is more sensitive to direct sunlight. However, a single “albinism” mutation usually has no significant effect on the animal’s physical structure, activity, or reproduction.
The panda photographed by Wolong showed that there was an “albinism” gene in the giant panda population in Wolong. From the photo, experts confirmed that the individual is physically healthy with a steady gait, evidence that the mutation may not have affected the daily life of this panda.
The “albinism” mutation is a recessive gene that can be inherited. Each animal has two sets of genes from both parents. Only when the gene from both the parent and the mother are mutated, the individual will develop into an albino. Based on the current data, it is not yet possible to judge the gender of this individual.
When the albino panda and healthy wild individuals (the ordinary “black and white” pandas) that do not carry the mutated gene successfully produce offspring, the first generation of panda babies will still appear black and white, but they will carry an “albinism” gene.
When two individuals carrying the mutated gene reproduce, it is possible that both of the inherited genes may be mutated to produce an albino individual.
Whether the albino mutant gene will be further transmitted around the giant panda population of Wolong will also need to be observed through continuous field monitoring in the protected area.
To understand the composition and habitat utilization of the diverse species in the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan, the Administration launched the monitoring and research work in 2018. In the various ecosystems of the protected area, scientists selected seven sample plots of 20 square kilometers, respectively. An infrared trigger camera was set up to monitor the distribution and dynamic changes of wild animals in each area.
This photo of the albino giant panda comes from one of the monitoring areas.
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.
On the 50th Earth Day, the Shanghai Zoo opened a “Local Animal Park”. The animal inhabitants of the park include endangered and protected species such as otters, Chinese water deers, leopard cats, South China tigers, and Oriental storks. At the same time, local representative species such as hog badger, European badger, raccoon dogs, and mallards also live in the park.
An Area of More Than 320,000 Square Feet Produces a “Home” Environment
The Shanghai Zoo Local Animal Park began construction in August 2017. After the completion, the total area of the park is more than 320,000 square feet.
In the past, tourists always paid more attention to star animals such as pandas, lions, golden monkeys and so on. However, they don’t know much about the animals that live around the city. Shanghai is a city built on wetlands with abundant natural resources that support nearly 90% of the wildlife species in the Yangtze River Delta Area. “We define ‘local animals’ as wildlife that live in or near Shanghai, or animals that have historically been distributed but are now disappearing,” said a zoo official.
The Local Animal Park of Shanghai Zoo is the first exhibition in China with the title of “local animals”. It features the natural environment of Shanghai wetland and hilly forests. The park strives to simulate nature so that the animals can express natural behaviors.
The entire bird area is composed of wetland landscapes such as lakes, shoals, streams, and small islands. Such an environment not only helps show the natural behavior of birds but also attracts many local wild birds to enrich the ecosystem. In the area for the Chinese water deer and Reeves’s muntjac, the slopes, lawns, and bushes are large enough to meet the deers’ needs to hide and run. The small animal exhibition areas for raccoon dogs, European badgers, and hog badgers present their preferred living environment with shrubs and ponds, supplemented by various tree holes and caves.
“Artificial” Food Chain Enhances Animal Welfare
There are many aquatic plants, small fish, snails, and tadpoles in the wetland environment of the bird area. The zoo also built an “insect hotel” on the island with eco-friendly materials. The staff placed straw, dry branches, dead bark, and other materials in discarded wooden boxes to attract different insects. These insects and some aquatic plants also become food for the cranes. Meanwhile, the zookeeper will also occasionally put some mealworms and crickets on the island to let the cranes catch by themselves.
Attentive visitors will find tree branches of various shapes and sizes in the exhibition area. “They restore the living environment of animals in the wild and provide the animals with entertainment.” the staff revealed.
As people’s attention to the environment and the protection of ecosystems increases, a growing number of people recognize the importance of protecting the habitats of humans and animals. The Shanghai Zoo said that the zoo has been striving to change from a traditional zoo to a modern zoo for a long time. The missions of the zoo are to conduct wildlife science research, comprehensive environmental protection, popular science education, and advocation of ecological protection. The establishment of Local Animal Park is a major practice.