China’s rules on freeing captive wild animals and using animal products as medicine amended

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An amendment to China’s Wild Animal Protection Law was voted through in the 21st session of the twelfth NPC standing committee. The top two issues addressed by the amendment are whether the products of wild animals under key protection in China can be used as medicine, and the rules about freeing captive wild animals.

The Wild Animal Protection Law was officially enacted in March 1989, and since then it has been amended twice in 2004 and 2009, but these amendments only concerned some specific changes in the phrasing. This year’s amendments on the other hand are more substantial.

Zhai Yong, the director of the Act Office of the Environmental and Resources Committee of the NPC, said during the session that the issue of whether tiger bones, rhinoceros horns, antelope horns and bear gall can be used as medicine has been especially hotly debated. He argued that it should be seriously prohibited to eat captive or breeding wild animals under key protection, and there needs to be further discussion on whether dead tiger’s bones can be used as medicine.

Regarding the activity of casually freeing captive animals, increasingly common in China, the experts stated that even though it is done with good intentions, this behavior may kill the animals if it is not guided by scientific rules. It was thus stipulated in the new amendment of the Law that any organization or individual that wants to free captive wild animals should choose a field environment suitable to the animals’ survival, and they are not allowed to disturb the normal life and work of local people or harm the eco-system. Anyone who causes damage to others’ life and property or the eco-system due to casually freeing wild animals should bear the legal liability.