Beijing: China's first proposed amendment to its wildlife protection law in 26 years has triggered heated debate among animal rights activists, the media reported on Tuesday.
Some animal rights activists called for the deletion of the phrase "developing and utilising wildlife resources" from the draft to prevent wildlife from being used for commercial purposes, though they approve of its great significance to the protection of wild animals, the Global Times reported.
The draft amendment, which was submitted for first reading at the bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on December 26, 2015, adds regulations on punishments for selling, purchasing, utilising and transporting wild animals that are not nationally protected. The amendment also bans people from performing mercy releases of captive animals.
Under the draft's stipulations, citizens are obligated to protect wildlife and are expected to report any encroachment on or damage to wildlife habitats. The draft also requires local governments to protect wildlife and habitats with specific measures.
However, many animal rights activists and experts said that they hoped the term "utilising wild animals" would be deleted from the draft.
"The draft law still views wild animals as resources, which goes against the worldwide trend," Mang Ping, a professor of environmental ethics at the Central Institute of Socialism, said, adding that such terms should be deleted to prevent wild animals from being used for commercial purposes.
Yu Fengqin, director of wildlife protection NGO Ark in Green Fields, also suggested that people who buy and eat wild animals should face punishment.
Yu said that all wild animals should be protected by the law, not just species that are rare or near extinction, or species which have an important economic or scientific value.