Government officials said yesterday that the illegal hunting of birds was rampant in parts of China - with many creatures ending up on the dinner plate - and should be tackled strictly according to law.
The State Forestry Administration said the problem was particularly bad in southern China, with restaurants shelling out huge sums to serve the birds to customers.
Hotels were also guilty of buying the illegally caught birds as profits from their sale were high.
Sounding a clarion call to local leaders and agencies to crack down on the criminal practice, officials warned that national ecosystems and biodiversity were under threat.
They launched a week-long campaign against the illegal hunting, killing and trading of birds in China yesterday.
Officials said large quantities of birds were involved as the migrating season was under way.
As a result the campaign will be focused on the resting place and habitats of birds, such as regions around the Bohai Sea, lower reaches of the Yellow River and coastal regions of Shandong and Jiangsu provinces.
Targeted regions will also include east China and south China where people often eat birds.
Forestry police have promised to strictly enforce criminal law, the law on the protection of wildlife and relevant regulations. They made a zero-tolerance vow to punish anyone who violates the laws and regulations.
Du Yongsheng, director of the forest police bureau under the administration, said local police stations should exchange information frequently and co-ordinate their work in the campaign.
He also called on the general public to support the campaign and offer effective information to local forestry police stations.
China is one of the countries that are the richest in bird resources. There are more than 1,300 bird species in the country, accounting for 13.5 percent of the world's total, statistics from the administration reveal.
Among 1,300 species, more than 500 are migratory birds and each year many other migratory birds from foreign countries pass through the country.
(China Daily December 17, 2oo2)