In a milestone law, China will be recognizing animals welfare for the first time … ever! The first draft of an amendment to a wildlife protection law from 1988 was just revised. These changes introduce the concept of  “animal welfare” and give more protection to wild animals in China.

“Before this amendment, there where no regulations related to punishments for hurting or abusing wildlife in China,” said Yang Zhaoxia, deputy chief of ecological law research center in Beijing Forestry University. The law will not only provide standards for living and breeding conditions necessary for wild animals, but institute punishments for hurting or abusing wildlife.

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Over the years, China has received much international criticism for the lack of protections afforded to animals. Especially so in the case of endangered species who are targeted by poachers for their use in food or traditional medicines.

China has many species of endangered animals and some of the most diverse wildlife in the world.  According to a study that was recently published by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, China is the world leader in the illegal wildlife trade. During their search, over half of advertisements for illegal wildlife and wild animal parts online where from Chinese websites. Ivory was one of the most common items found in many of these advertisements. At a time when the conservation of these species is crucial for their survival, any semblance of exploitation should be investigated by authorities.

This new amendment will attempt to slow this illegal wildlife trade and will lay the groundwork to in make China a better place for animals. Though the law doesn’t mention domestic or farm animals, having “animal welfare” in the policy is a huge step in the right direction for China and its animals. We hope that this is the first of many more to come.

Image source: Sand of time/Flickr

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