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Police Capture Rare Monkey Traders in Sichuan
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Sichuan police in Southwest China have cracked down on a large wild animal trafficking case involving a dozen local people and seized seven rare Sichuan golden haired monkeys.

The case has once again exposed the fact that some rural Chinese are ignorant about of basic wild animal protection knowledge and continue to flout wildlife protection laws, said Pu Fangfang, director of the province's Beichuan County Public Security Bureau which is in charge of the case.

"Most people here know that the giant panda is an endangered animal. However, few know the golden haired monkey is also a State top-level endangered animal, just next to the famous giant panda in China," Pu told China Daily in a telephone interview.

Acting on a tip off, police learnt that a dozen locals in the county helped wild animal traffickers poach and sell seven golden haired monkeys last August.

A nine month investigation resulted in Sichuan police finally tracking down the monkeys and making 13 arrests.

Golden haired monkeys can fetch up to 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) each when sold to zoos, while local farmers who help trap wild monkeys get about 500 yuan (US$60), equal to two weeks wages for a city worker, but a small fortune for a poor peasant.

Those arrested in the latest round up by police face long jail sentences if convicted, with terms in excess of 10 years possible for poaching and selling golden haired monkeys, which are regarded, along with the giant panda as a national treasure, under Criminal Law.

"We need to make more efforts to educate local people to improve awareness of wild animal protection and help prevent rare and endangered animals from becoming extinct," Pu said.

There are four types of golden haired monkeys or snub-nosed monkeys in China, exclusive to Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces. A fourth is Vietnamese golden haired monkey, which as its name suggests, is not a native of China.

(China Daily June 13, 2003)

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