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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 10:07 GMT
Rare species campaign targets chefs
Turtle off Malaysian coast
Turtles, snakes and pangolins should come off the menu
By BBC science reporter Julian Siddle

The China Wildlife Conservation Association has launched an unusual campaign aimed at saving endangered animals.

The group is asking professional cooks to sign a declaration that they will not prepare food using endangered species.


Species are threatened because of human consumption

Jim Harkness, Worldwide Fund for Nature
The agency hopes to collect at least three million signatures to raise awareness of the practice of eating such animals.

Eating the meat of many exotic or rare animals is associated with health benefits or higher social status.

As a result there is a thriving trade in many rural areas of China, where wild animals are trapped and sold to city restaurants.

The China Wildlife Conservation Association hopes that enrolling chefs in its campaign will help halt this trade.

Widespread problem

Jim Harkness, who heads the association's sister organisation, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, in Beijing said: "There are a number of species, especially reptiles, not only in China but now, increasingly, in all of South East Asia that are threatened precisely because of direct human consumption."

These endangered animals include snakes, tortoises, turtles, and the pangolin, a type of scaly anteater.

Mr Harkness says that though eating these animals remains popular amongst older diners, younger people are turning their backs on such dishes.

The government too, he says, is sending out signals about the importance of conserving rare wild animals, in the form of increasing regulations and bans on their sale as food. The tradition of eating exotic or rare animals is putting some species at risk of extinction.

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 ON THIS STORY
Jim Harkness, Worldwide Fund for Nature
"Many young people are turning away from traditional delicacies"
See also:

06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's snakes 'at risk'
28 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
China snake craze threatens crops
10 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Vanishing reptiles prompt concern
27 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Snakes seized at Bangkok airport
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