Captive tiger behind fence, China

China’s Wildlife Protection Law should be changed to outlaw trade in protected species

On Monday (24 February), the Chinese Government is due to discuss changes to its Wildlife Protection Law, the country’s primary piece of legislation covering wildlife conservation and trade.

The revision by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress was primarily prompted by public health concerns over the consumption of wildlife as food in the wake of the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, outbreak.

Captive tiger in China (c) EIAimage

However, our Wildlife campaigners believe it also represents a key opportunity to address other serious concerns with the current law.

With the country a primary source of demand for parts and products of many wildlife species threatened by trade, including tigers, leopards, pangolins, rhinos and elephants, China’s domestic policies regarding trade in these and other species are of global importance.

At present, provisions in the law allow for commercial trade in parts and products of protected species and the breeding of protected species for commercial purposes.

These policies are serving to perpetuate and stimulate demand for wildlife products, while complicating law enforcement and undermining initiatives to reduce consumer demand.

In our set of recommendations, published this week in English and Chinese, we are urging Chinese lawmakers to prohibit these activities.

Permanent prohibition of these activities, as well as extending the focus of revisions to the law to cover consumption of wildlife as medicinal products and decorative items, would also more effectively address the public health concerns which triggered the revision in the first place.

With our recommendations, we also hope to support calls from huge numbers of people in China who have been expressing their opposition to trade in wildlife.