China adds more than 500 species to its list of wildlife conservation
China has added 517 species to its list of the main wild animals that provide them with protection, as part of a campaign it launched in the wake of the Corona pandemic, to eliminate the trade of wild animals and destroy their habitats.
A joint statement by the Ministries of Forestry and Agriculture on Friday said the amendment of the list had become "extremely urgent" due to recent changes in the wildlife situation in China.
There are now 980 wild animals in total under state protection.
The two ministries promised to work with local governments to identify and protect the habitats of animals added to the list, which include civet cats that are at risk of extinction and species of birds whose numbers have decreased in recent years.
Those who hunt and smuggle animals will face fines and even prison terms for "level 1" species of protection such as endangered pandas, pangolins, and others.
China has been trying to stem the wildlife trade since January 2020, after linking the first cases of COVID-19 to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan. The market was famous for selling exotic animals.
Scientists speculate that the Corona virus that causes Covid-19 could be transmitted to humans from bats through an intermediate type, and the candidate animal for this is most often the scaly anteater.
China also promised to intensify efforts to protect forests and wetlands and isolate nature reserves located behind "environmental protection red lines", in an effort to reduce human exposure to virus transmission.
In February, China's parliament announced plans to implement a permanent nationwide ban on trade and smuggling of wildlife, but left significant loopholes for the breeding of captive animals that are trafficked for fur or used in traditional Chinese medicine.
In the first nine months of 2020, China prosecuted more than 15,000 wildlife crimes, an increase of 66 percent over the same period of the previous year, according to the prosecution.