News is filtering out about a series of wildlife raids undertaken in China that has seen wildlife markets shut down, High Street stores selling animals parts raided and web sites closed. You can not help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the raids involving about 100,000 police officers and disheartened by the size of the illegal wildlife market as 130,000 wild animals were seized.
The information about the recent raids was released today by the State Forestry Administration in Beijing on their departmental web site. The raids targeted places that were openly selling endangered species and products from endangered animals.
Some of the figures released by the Administration included:
- raids on 5,962 markets,
- 13 wildlife trafficking gangs shut down,
- 1,031 illegal wildlife traders caught,
- seized over 130,000 wild animals
- 2,000 animal products worth nearly seven million yuan (1.11 million U.S. dollars) seized.
During the police raids over 7,000 High Street shops were targeted and shut down for trading in endangered species and 628 web sites selling wildlife and endangered species products were shut down. Over 1600 messages were removed from various web sites that promoted wildlife products.
The State Forestry Administration said that the raids undertaken was to protect endangered species, clean up the internet of illegal and criminal activities and also to bring back a more normal market environment.
This action is extremely welcome as illegal trade in wildlife is openly carried out in China. The question is if this is just the beginning or a prolonged crackdown on wildlife criminals and traffickers in the country or just a ‘one off’ action as China heads towards a major change in government.
While China has many of the older generation who hold traditional views about the power of wild animal parts or the status of keeping endangered species there are changes in views among the growing affluent young.
Whether it’s a new-found interest in protecting endangered species and tackling wildlife crime or just a way of appeasing the young during the current once in a decade political changeover there’s one thing for certain and that is there’s a lot of people now no longer trading endangered species. It will not take long before their places are taken by others – wildlife trading is a very profitable business – but it’s a start and gives some endangered species a short, very short, breathing space as trafficking networks are rebuilt.