In China, Eating Endangered Animals Will Land You In Jail

Zohaib Ahmed
April, 25, 2014: You can't eat wild animals in China and expect to remain a free man.

If you come in direct contact with a wild animal, chances are you’ll be eaten, and because it is an animal, hardly anyone would come to your rescue.

However, the same treatment wouldn't be handed out to you if roles are reversed and it's you feasting on that wild animal. Especially if you live in China and are fond of devouring wild animals, you'd have to stop immediately. Unless of course you're fine with spending a few years in jail.

The East Asian country's top brass announced recently that the act of eating a rare wild animal is now a crime, punishable by law. The law is the latest in a series of moves the country has taken in order to stop its’ endangered species from becoming extinct.

At the moment, more than 400 animal species are marked as critically endangered in China. Their names have been included in the list issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). The NPC has made it explicitly clear that eating or even buying these animals will send the violator behind bars for a minimum of five years – the maximum could be more than 10 years.

China is one of just 17 countries in the world that are considered mega diverse due to the vast variety of species they have in their territory. Not only is it the world's most populous country but is also home to more than 4,400 recorded species of vertebrates, which is 10 percent of the world's aggregate.

However, this extreme biodiversity is in danger due to decades of illegal hunting, general pollution and a large faction of its natives who have developed a taste for wild animals. There also exists a thriving industry that uses animal body parts and extracts for medicinal purposes – another contributing factor to the region's worsening wildlife.

Several Public Service Announcements featuring notable celebrities were made in the recent past to create awareness, but none have proved fruitful. It left the Chinese authorities with no other choice but to turn to legislation to rid themselves of this menace.

But the Criminal Law regarding the hunting of wild animals is nothing new. In fact, it was passed in 1997.

It's just the legislation's interpretation that has been made clear now. The question is why did it take 17 years for the authorities to decide that killing and eating such species should be a punishable offence?