By Chen Heying
Revisions to the Law for the Protection of Wildlife are likely to be completed by the end of this year, a move which analysts expect could raise public awareness about animal welfare and protecting endangered animals.
"The NPC Standing Committee is prioritizing the revisions, which are expected to be finished in December," Luo Shenglian, an NPC deputy and vice president of Nanchang Hangkong University, told the Global Times.
Luo, who has proposed amending the Law for the Protection of Wildlife for three consecutive years, said the law, which has not been extensively revised since it took effect in 1988, has lagged far behind the country's economic development.
"Animals were viewed as a 'tool' to aid economic development, but they are [in fact\ indispensable to maintaining environmental balance," An Xiang, a Beijing-based lawyer dedicated to animal welfare protection, told the Global Times.
Chang Jiwen, vice director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies under the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the Global Times that the amendment will highlight wildlife welfare, including habitat protection, as well as bans on abusing, harassing and hurting animals that are cared for by humans.
Whether to ban bear gall bladder trade, forbid the breeding of tigers in captivity, and to prohibit monkey busking will also be discussed during the amendment process, Chang added.
An argued that the Constitution differentiates between rare animals and plants and ordinary natural resources, the latter of which can be exploited. Endangered plants and animals should therefore be better protected from commercial exploitation.
Together with 34 other lawmakers, Luo proposed incorporating animal abuse into the Law on Penalties for Administration of Public Security before establishing a law preventing cruelty to animals.
He suggested fining abusers up to 5,000 yuan ($798).
However, Chang said that it is hard to push penalties forward, considering that the public has yet to reach a consensus on protecting animals.
"We can start with recognizing wildlife welfare, and moving gradually to promoting the protection of animals that closely interact with human beings," Chang noted.
The State Forestry Administration announced on February 26 a one-year ban on imports of African ivory carvings acquired after the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora took effect in 1975, a move to protect African elephants and to assess the effects of the ivory trade, the Xinhua News Agency reported.