The booming south China city of Guangzhou, once notorious for its restaurants that served everything from dogs and cats to endangered species, is cracking down on restaurateurs who collaborate with poachers and dealers in illegal wildlife trading.
Eight poachers and dealers and one restaurateur were arrested Sunday as the city kicked off a month-long campaign to enhance public awareness of wildlife protection.
Kuang Mouzhao, who runs a restaurant in Haizhu district of Guangzhou, is alleged to have bought pieces of dried scaly anteater from an illegal dealer and served them to the diners.
The rare scaly anteater is listed by the government as a protected species.
Kuang was allegedly caught red-handed by forestry policemen during a routine inspection of his restaurant last week.
Since the beginning of 2005, more than 10 restaurants have been fined or had their operations suspended for serving rare animal dishes ranging from owl and sturgeon to bear paws, Guangzhou's forestry police bureau said.
In the past 22 months, the bureau uncovered 773 illegal wildlife trading cases, seized 64,662 animals and punished 757 people, 105 of whom were sentenced to jail terms from three months to 12 years.
On Sunday, 100 volunteers took an oath to never eat wild animals and pledged to help raise awareness of wildlife protection laws and regulations.
The local government also encouraged citizens to call the police on the 110 hotline if they find illegal animal trading cases.
(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2006)