Two men suspected of poisoning and killing hundreds of a rare species of wild bird in east China's Jiangsu Province were arrested on Wednesday, the local public security bureau revealed yesterday.
A group of five local residents scattered poisoned grain in the Yancheng National Rare Birds Nature Reserve several times last month, intending to lure and kill wild ducks and sell their downs for money, according to Zhang Kai, a police officer who investigated the case.
Two suspects were caught when they came back days later to pick up the bodies of these ducks.
More than 200 such ducks were poisoned and killed, but so did many wild birds that share the reserve with the ducks.
About 400 wild birds were reported to have died including three red-crowned cranes and dozens of white and black storks, said Zhang, from the Sheyang branch of Yancheng Municipal Public Security Bureau in north Jiangsu.
All the poisoned grain scattered by the gang have been cleared away from the reserve, but 10 people have been assigned to guard the area to prevent birds from landing and foraging for food.
"We will do all we can to guarantee that this doesn’t happen again," Zhang said.
According to Zhang, his bureau will turn over the two suspects to the local procuratorate bureau next week.
Several similar cases of poisoning and killing endangered species of wild animals have been reported in both Yancheng and other nature reserves in recent years.
Lu Shicheng, an expert in wild birds protection, told China Daily: "Severe punishment should be imposed on people who do this. Killing protected animals such as red-crowned cranes are crimes punishable by more than 10 years in prison, in accordance with the country's current wild animal protection law."
Lu said that Yancheng nature reserve should further enhance their protection work and promote people's awareness in wild animal protection.
Only 19,000 hectares of the 400,000-hectare reserve is under full-time supervision, according to Deng Jingdong, vice director of the reserve.
Set up in 1984, the reserve provides shelter to more than 3 million wild birds every year, including 14 species of the country's most highly protected birds and 76 species of second-level protected birds. It is the only place in the country where almost all of the 1,500 migrant red-crowned cranes in the world spend their winter, Deng added.
(China Daily January 20, 2006)