China considers amending wildlife law

Beijing, Dec 21 (IANS) China’s top legislature is considering an amended draft wildlife law focused on habitat protection.

The draft is scheduled for its first reading at the bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which opened on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The current law came into force in 1989.

Wang Hongju, deputy head of the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the NPC, said the law had helped protect wildlife over the years. The wildlife population under state protection, including giant pandas and Tibetan antelopes, have increased and there are now more than 2,700 nature reserves nationwide.

Wildlife protection still faces severe challenges. Degradation and reduction of habitats continues, and amending the current law has become an urgent matter, according to Wang.

The draft bans illegal hunting, damaging habitats and requires authorities to reduce the impact of development.

If the managers of construction projects are found not to be taking measures to eliminate or reduce the projects’ impact on wildlife, projects may be suspended with fines of up to one million yuan (about $154,000).

According to the draft, citizens are obliged to protect wildlife and its habitat.

If they spot encroachment on and damage to wildlife habitats, citizens are expected to report the matter to authorities.

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