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More Work Needed for Endangered Species

China is working hard to protect its endangered wildlife and their habitats, and has set up protected areas for most wild species.

The State Forestry Administration (SFA) says that 85 percent of wildlife species, 85 percent of terrestrial ecosystems and 65 percent of higher plant colonies are now protected.

At a national conference held Thursday in Haikou, capital of the southern province of Hainan, SFA officials said a growing number of nature reserves across the country are providing good environments for endangered plant and animal species.

By the end of 2003, China had set up 1,538 nature reserves covering a total area of 118 million hectares, or 12.3 percent of China's total land territory. They have contributed to the growth of such endangered plants and animals as the giant panda, red ibis, Chinese alligator, yew, arethusa and cycad.

However, some species are still critically endangered as a result of illicit hunting, poaching, logging and smuggling activities.

"If we do not take substantial action to stop such illegal activities quickly, some related industries will find it hard to move ahead," said SFA deputy director Zhao Xuemin.

In the past year, China's forestry authorities launched a series of campaigns to crack down on illegal hunting, logging and smuggling. In the Spring Thunder operation alone, the SFA filed approximately 9,000 cases for investigation and seized more than 900,000 pieces of evidence.

Meanwhile, Zhao said the SFA will make great efforts to promote controlled breeding and raising of wildlife and plants in the future to ease natural protection pressure. More than 18,000 such bases have already been set up across the country.

The SFA reports that 156 of China's endangered plant and animal species are among the 640 listed in the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

However, due to insufficient resources, habitat destruction and poaching, China could lose 15 to 20 percent of its protected species. The global average is estimated at 10 to 15 percent.

(Xinhua News Agency April 2, 2004)

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