Published: Monday 15 March 1999

-- At a recent session of the Provincial People's Congress at Guangdong province, China, a group of representatives submitted a bill proposing a ban on eating wild animals. Meat of wild animals is a traditional cuisine in China. Guangdong province has a reputation as a gourmet heaven for those who have a palate for such "delicacies" as golden monkeys (Pygathrix roxellana), pangolins (Manis pentadactyla) and cranes (Gruidae grus) -- all endangered species. The purpose of the proposed bill is to maintain an ecological balance by protecting not only rare species, but also wildlife in general, such as snakes, which are the favourite ingredients in Guangdong dishes.

A Chinese newspaper, Nanfang Daily, reported that golden monkeys pangolins and cranes -- species that are in danger of extinction and protected by the Chinese government -- are sold at restaurants in the province. A restaurant at Maoming, a city in the south of Guangdong, sells golden monkey meat for about us $124 per kg, crane meat for about us $120 and bear paws for about us $160, according to the local newspaper. Although China enacted the Wildlife Protection Law in November 1988, poaching for meat, skin and fur is still widespread, putting rare species in danger of extinction. Even pandas, considered national treasures, sometimes fall victim to poachers.

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