March 3 marks UN World Wildlife Day, which celebrates wild animals and plants and aims to raise awareness about threats against them.
Protecting wildlife is a mission China also shares.
CGTN’s Frances Kuo has more on the steps the country is taking.
A rare sighting was captured recently on infrared cameras in northwest China: otters at dozens of locations along several rivers.
“The otter is very sensitive, for example, to water quality and food,” explained Li Yuhan, a researcher at Shanshui Conservation Center. “Therefore, only when there is high-quality water and enough prey, can the animal live there.”
Otters have been hunted and killed for their prized fur and their habitats threatened by pollution.
To protect them and other wildlife, the area has been designated as part of a nature reserve.
Promising signs have also emerged in central Henan Province where cameras spotted wild leopards, an endangered species there.
“Various wildlife, especially the prey for large predators, including boars, hares, have increased dramatically,” Li Jiwu, head of the Wildlife Protection and Aid Station of Jiaozuo said. “It has laid a good foundation for maintaining a stable food resource for large carnivores. The ecological chain and food chain for wildlife have further improved, and the population and species of wildlife are growing year after year.”
In February, the first monitoring system of its kind was launched in northeast China.
It uses technology to power 100 terminals to keep track of tigers and leopards.
“If we don’t know the real-time status of the wild animals, it would be difficult for us to protect them efficiently and effectively,” said Feng Limin of the State Forestry Administration.
Border guards are doing their part.
One group patrols the northwest border in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It’s a natural habitat for several endangered wild animals and a draw for illegal hunters.
Cracking down on poachers is only a part of China’s efforts in wildlife protection.
Fifteen provinces and cities, including Beijing, plan to establish “red lines.”
“After drawing the red lines, we will strictly protect these areas,” said Cheng Lifeng of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. “We’ll identify and settle the boundary and fight against any actions that harm the ecological environment.”
The plan is to expand the monitoring area to nearly one and a half million square kilometers by 2020.
The public is also encouraged to play a role.
Eating rare wild animals is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison. And, anyone producing, selling or purchasing them for consumption could also face penalties.
Peter Knights on saving the world’s big cats
CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Peter Knights. He’s the Executive Director for WildAid, a conservation group that works to reduce wildlife products. CGTN asked him about the world’s most at-risk animals, and what the international community is doing to protect them.