China has released details about its latest round of raids by police in tackling the illegal wildlife trade in the country. In April 80,000 police took part in an operation which saw over 6,000 markets, dealers and websites raided.
Liu Wenshu, a spokeswoman for public security office of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry, highlighted two trends which are taking place. The first is that wildlife trading is now dominated by trade for collections and art rather than for food delicacies and more worrisome is that the offenders are now predominately young.
The news that most of the current offenders in wildlife trading is young must be disappointing for many NGO’s who are desperately trying to change attitudes in order to save species in the wild.
While the organisations may be having success in turning young people away from eating endangered species such as sharks or using traditional medicines over more established remedies it appears that the message of nature conservation as a whole is failing to get through.
In Beijing alone over 1,000 ivory products were seized during the April operation and 64 nationally protected species were confiscated.
From the 6020 markets and dealers inspected by officials and the police there were 679 cases of illegal trading showing that the problem is still widespread and rife in the country.
Beijing Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre became home to many of the animals seized and after health checks the animals will either be released back into the wild or cared for permanently at the centre.
Centre director, Wang Minzhong, said they were able to hatch 37 of the 65 boa constrictor snakes eggs taken to the centre by officials during the April raids. Other creatures they are currently caring for include chameleons and lorises.
Wenshu said that the public security bureau had noticed a trend in the young of collecting exotic pets as a status symbol and this is worrying as many do not have the experience or knowledge to look after endangered species, many of which have highly specialised and expensive needs.