Shaanxi men sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting an endangered bird with slingshots

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.

Flying crested ibis | Source: chinatravel.com

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.

The crested ibis is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red list. @Danielinblue

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.

Related Law:

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.

All information comes from  https://baijiahao.baidu.com/

Translated by LiAn Pan

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

An adorable owlet rescued by a good Samaritan in Ankang, Shaanxi, China

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.

Picture of the rescued owlet, which is possibly a long-eared owl.

“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.”

Zhou Liping is at the Wildlife Rescue Center with the owlet.

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.

Zhou is identifying the owl species for the public.

All information comes from  https://baijiahao.baidu.com/

Translated by Andrea Jia

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

She went boldly where no one has gone before

In the wildlife conservation community of Jiangxi Province, China, Huang Xiaofeng has a reputation of a “living dictionary”. As the director of the Institute of Wildlife Conservation of the Jiangxi Provincial Department of Forestry, Huang has been dedicating herself to Jiangxi’s wildlife for 22 years. What’s more, she has also been applying her research results into agriculture to help local farmers overcome poverty.

“Jiangxi is a province with a huge forest coverage rate. It is rich in wildlife resources, but it falls behind the frontier research of wildlife conservation and nature reserves. I wanted to change this situation.” In 1997, Huang graduated from the Northeast Forestry University. Yearning the mountain range and the lush nature she revered since childhood, she gave up the opportunity to work for the National Department of Forestry and returned to her hometown, Jiangxi.

Working in the field of wildlife research, scientists often have to go deep into the mountains and befriend snakes, birds, and all other kinds of animals. Danger is always a part of the job. To obtain research data, Huang once traveled within the mountains for several months. To find animals, one must take the path that the animals have taken. Most of the time, she walks in the depths of the mountains where no trails can traverse.

Huang admitted that her line of work was not without challenges. However, once a new species or a rare species was discovered, the sense of accomplishment would instantly make one forget the pains. She never gave up. In 2005, Huang pioneered the province’s only scientific research institute specializing in wildlife conservation.

Chinese merganser @nationalgeographic

At the end of 2007, after learning that the Chinese merganser was spotted in Longhushan, she instantly jumped on the train, took the camera, the telescope, dry food, and the kettle and headed to the forest area. The Chinese merganser is very vigilant and difficult to observe at a close range. To record its activities in detail, Huang had to take cover on the riverbank in advance and watch the bird with a telescope for several hours at a time.

Huang also traveled all over the country to provide farmers with technical support. She participated in the development of various innovative animal and agroforestry production systems with applications of online platforms. The results of her research have been widely used in various regions, including Jiangxi, Hunan, and Hubei, helping numerous farmers in poverty gain economic growth.

All information comes from  http://jiangxi.jxnews.com.cn/

Translated by Dule

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

Chinese organization launches an emergency rescue mission for seized pangolins

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 is a small ant-eating mammal found in Asia. Its skin is covered completely with keratin scales, which are in huge demand in China.

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.

The seized pangolin products.

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.

The rehabilitation of rescued pangolins is a difficult task which requires expert advice.

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.

All photos and information come from mp.weixin.qq.com/

Translated by Dule

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

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