Protection of Animals and Animal Welfare Situation in China
--Speech by Wang Wei, Deputy Director of Department of Wildlife Conservation Under State Forestry Administration January 12, 2006 Ladies and gentlemen: Good morning. I am very pleased today to brief you on what has been done in China and progress made in the areas related to animal welfare including extracting bile from gallbladder of bred bears. 1. Remarkable Improvement of Wild Animal Welfare Captive breeding, raising and utilization of wild animals in China have developed rapidly since 1980's, which effectively helped to relieve pressure on the wildlife resources and further strengthen their protection. During the rapid development, as the competent authority for management of terrestrial wildlife at central level, State Forestry Administration (former Ministry of Forestry), have adopted a series of effective measures to improve status for wildlife bred in captivity and their utilization, in accordance with the principle of strengthening protection of resources, promoting taming and captive breeding and sustainable use of resources defined by the China's Wildlife Protection Law. By now, results from the efforts are obvious and remarkable improvement of animal welfare has been achieved. • Development and formulation of technical regulations helps to update technologies and techniques for taming and breeding of wild animals. The regulations issued by State Forestry Administration so far, including Regulation on Management of Taming and Breeding Permits of Key Nationally Protected Wildlife(1989),Universal Technical Standards for Terrestrial Wildlife (Beasts) Raising Farms(1990), Universal Technical Standards for Terrestrial Wildlife (Birds) Raising Farms(1999), Universal Technical Standards for Terrestrial Wildlife (Amphibians and Reptiles) Raising Farms(1990), clearly defined the requirements for the sites of farms, sanitation and prevention of diseases, technical standards, fodder and capital input. • The central government has invested and established one after another wildlife rescue centers, totaling 16 so far, and regulated and helped local authorities establish 31 wildlife rescue stations. Thus injured animals and those from illegal sources can be rescued and cured, and some can be released at appropriate time. • Put an end to such activities as show of feeding beasts of prey with live animals, regulate and standardize animal performances in circuses. All applications for performance and shows of animals which are contrary to the feelings of human being shall not be approved. • A series of measures on checking up and improvement of raising and utilization of wild animals have been conducted nation wide. Several experts groups were sent to farms across the country for checks and directions. The farms, whose operation cannot meet the UniversalTechnical Standard were suspended and those who run farms illegally were punished. The annual checks and valuation system was enforced for the farms raising monkeys for experiments. By the end of 2005, only 23 such farms were permitted to sell the monkeys raised for experiments. • Together with the State General Administration of Industry and Commerce, the State Forestry Administration has promoted labeling of live animals, identified and published 6 species and 11 families of wildlife to be labeled in 2006 to establish archives of individuals of wildlife and strengthen supervision and management, which has secured better treatment of wildlife. • To secure better conditions and safety of transports of wildlife,Requirements for Transports of Live Animals was published. And cooperation with International Air Transport Association has been promoted for application of international technical standards of transports of wildlife by air to that in China. • Public awareness raising has been further carried out nation wide, promoting non-over use of wild animals for food. The list of Terrestrial Wildlife Species of which mature technologies of taming and breeding have been applied was published, further enhancing the awareness of the society about wildlife, creating a better environment of concern and better treatment of wildlife. All these efforts have contributed to the remarkable improvement of wildlife welfare in China. The living conditions of wildlife in Safari parks, Zoos, rescue centers and breeding farms have met the concerned standards. 2. The technique and conditions for extracting bile from gallbladder of bred bears have been significantly improved and changed, while it has been playing an important role in protection of wild bears and medical treatment of patients. The practice of extracting bile from bred bears started from the 1980s and the aim of it is to change the past practice of cutting gallbladder by way of killing bears so as to better protect the wild population. Statistics show that if one black bear was raised for gall extraction, it means that 220 black bears could survive. However, as the laws and regulations on wildlife protection at that time were not so comprehensive as those currently, some bear-raising farmers took crucial measures when extracting bile just for their revenues without considering their poor conditions and techniques. To deal with the situation, the forestry management authority attached great importance to it and made efforts to take a series of measures as follows: i. When the Law of Wildlife Protection was entry into force in 1988, black bears, brown bears are listed as the second category of wildlife under national key protection, Malay Bears are listed as the first category of wildlife under national key protection. Efforts were intensified to promote nature reserve establishment in the distribution area of bears, so as to improve habitats for wild population of bears. ii. Since 1992, China has stopped commercial export of products containing bear bile and no licenses were issued to application of construction new bear-raising farms. iii. Interim Provisions on Technical Code of Practice for Raising Black Bears were enacted, which requires hygienic, painless practice for gall extraction and make strict regulations on the techniques and conditions for nursing, exercise and propagation. iv. Efforts were also made on checking up and rectifying the line sector and sending expert panels for investigation and evaluation. Any illegal conduct on bear-raising for gall extraction was prosecuted. Until now, the bear-raising farms in China were reduced from over 480 to the current 68. v. The State Forestry Administration in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, State Industry and Commerce Administration, Food and Drug Administration and Chinese Traditional Medicine Administration issued a circular order in 2004 to reiterate once again for prevention of capture wild bears and further improvement of bear-raising and propagation activities. Any illegal conduct for bear-raising and bile extraction will be prosecuted and those whose conditions for raising and technical and management measures are not up to the standards will be required to improve and change the status within limited terms. Along with that, a series of measures were taken to check up stocked bear bile powder, establish a preservation system with recorded sites, totally ban the trade of bear bile powder in retail sector, set limitations on the use of bear bile powder and start a labeling system on products containing bear bile. With these efforts, the illegal bear-raising farms or the farms with poor conditions cannot continue to sale their products illegally. With the above measures, the current techniques and conditions for bear raising and gall extraction have taken a fundamental change compared with that in 1980s and 1990s. The past practices such as using "irony jumper," "small irony cage" to treat the bears to extract bile have been abolished and new practices were introduced like extraction through a tube developed from bear tissue or apparatus of itself, painless operation and suitable space for bear activities. We have noticed that some organizations or individuals still use the past videos and photos or some illegal cases to cover or exaggerate the current status. This is actually distorting the facts and shows the intension of misleading donors for resource mobilization. Protection and caring of wildlife is one of symbols of human civilization while traditional medicine for treatment of patients is one of human precious heritages. Bear bile is an important Chinese traditional medicine material. Its various effects cannot be substituted by other medicine completely. There are about 123 kinds of traditional medicine with the ingredients of bear bilel and many patients rely on the above medicine for treatment. So, we must bring needs for medical treatment of patients and protection of wild bears into our comprehensive consideration, and find ways towards "all-wins". Also, during the progress, key attention will be paid to any occurred crucial treatment on raised bears and timely investigation will be made to legally impose severe punishment on similar cases. 3. The breeding and skin-taking techniques of fur-bearing wildlife have been comprehensively regulated. In recent years, the breeding and utilization techniques of fur-bearing wildlife have developed very rapidly in China. In order to enhance the standardized management of this industry, the State Forestry Administration has successively worked out and released Blue Fox Breeding and Management Techniques (1998), Universal Technical Conditions for Terrestrial Wildlife Raising Farms (1999) in order to improve the breeding conditions and techniques of fur-bearing wildlife. In the early 2005, when we were informed about the non-standard skin-taking approach such as "peeling off marten alive" in Suning County of Hebei Province, we were shocked and immediately made initial investigation on that event and the general situation of the fur-bearing wildlife breeding and utilization nationwide, in a joint effort with China Leather Association and China Wildlife Conservation Association. According to the findings of the investigation, the behavior of "skinning marten alive" in Suning County of Hebei Province would be no good to the fur quality to adopt the approach of "skinning alive," which increases the difficulty and inevitably lower the efficiency of skin-taking. Obviously, "skinning alive" is impossible as a common approach of the industry. From the above-mentioned cases and our follow-up investigations, we recognized that there are still circumstances of poor breeding conditions, lagged-behind breeding techniques, and non-standard approach of killing and skinning fur-bearing animals in the industry. Thus, the State Forestry Administration has entrusted China Leather Association to organize experts to rapidly work out Interim Provisions on the Breeding and Utilization Techniques of Fur-bearing Wildlife and made it published in June 2005. The Provisions has brought forward a series of requirements on standardized management of fur-bearing wildlife breeding in terms of farm construction, raising management, sanitation and disease control, killing and skinning approach, file management, animal welfare and technical service. After issuing the "Technical Provisions," SFA conducted technical training, organized expert groups to check and evaluate the breeding farms, skinning processing sites and technical service agencies. If all the conditions have met the criteria, SFA will put unified labels on the fur and fur products step by step, until finally a market access system and an export system will be established for labeled fur and fur products. In this regard, the breeding and raising conditions of fur animals could be better improved, and the well treatment of live animals could be secured in all aspects, to avoid pain brought to the fur animals. Caring for the wild animals is not only the goodness emotion of human beings, but also the general desire of Chinese people. During the process of improving the management of wildlife conservation, wildlife welfare is an important component of our work. Therefore we welcome suggestions and comments with good intensions from friends and organizations, and sincerely hope that all parties from the international community could strengthen communication and cooperation in a pragmatic way to take concerted efforts to improve the welfare of wild animals.
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