Beijing ( AsiaNews) - Eating or hunting rare animals for food is now a criminal offense in China. The government has approved an amendment to the Criminal Code which sets 3 to 10 years in prison for those who "knowingly eat or trade ", the meat of the 420 species currently at risk across the Chinese territory. They include the giant pandas, golden monkeys, Asian black bears and pangolins. Shark fins and rhino horns, key elements in traditional Chinese medicine have also been banned.
The decision was made this morning by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which represents the national parliament. After years of requests from the international community, the Standing Committee defined the hunting of endangered species a "global threat". In addition, the Commission has "blamed" wealthy Asian consumers who, thanks to a high volume of cash, foment trade in rare animals for personal purposes.
In Asian tradition, some breeds are associated with well-being and vigor. Giant turtle soup ensures a long life, bear's paw helps sexuality, and powdered rhino horn is used to heal fever, epilepsy, malaria, poisoning and abscesses. Given these beliefs, the hunting and trading of these animals are very popular activities: announcing the reform today, state news agency Xinhua claims that "up to now those involved in these practices went unpunished".