Many endangered animal species in Asia are facing extinction in
10 years as a direct result of human consumption, warned the Ocean
Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong yesterday.
The animal care group, announcing its findings of a research
project for 2007/08, said that 79 species of freshwater turtles, or
80 percent of the turtle family in Asia, are endangered. Pangolins
were facing the same problem.
Foundation director Suzanne Gendron said while Asian countries
had implemented conservation laws and regulations, excessive
consumption of the species poses a severe threat to the
Many of the endangered animals are hunted for their meat which
is thought to be delicacy and of medicinal value.
Figures from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
Department showed that 46,670 freshwater turtles were legally
traded in Hong Kong this year and 652 in 2006.
No legal trade of pangolin was recorded from 2004 to 2007 in
Hong Kong, but illegal trade had increased from 939 heads in 2004
to 6,478 in 2006.
The department had also seized 1,100 snakes at the airport,
which were imported from Thailand, during the Easter holiday.
"There is a high consumer demand for these animals, giving rise
to a booming trade,," Gendron said.
"What is wrong is that we do not have a sustainable level, and
we need to find a balance," she said, adding that the species could
be lost in the next decade if no action is taken.
Gendron said law enforcement alone is insufficient to tackle the
problem.The effective solution is to find alternative sources of
medicinal value and step up public education campaign, she
"We need to protect the environment and educate the community to
value these animals (which will reduce the consumer demand). These
can make a big difference to save these animals," she said.
The foundation will spend HK$5.63 million on 50 conservation
projects in 2007/08. One of the projects, in collaboration with the
South China University of Technology, will study the population and
distribution of endangered freshwater turtles, and evaluate the
impact of illegal trade on the remaining wild animal
Other projects would cover the conservation of marine mammal,
giant panda, reptiles, bird, coral reefs and seahorse.
Students from University of Hong Kong, University of Science and
Technology, Chinese University and City University will be invited
to participate in researches and field trips.
(China Daily HK Edition October 25, 2007)