The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, has passed a law that that aims to deter citizens from eating the country’s endangered wild animals. The new legislation was created to protect 420 species of wild animals that the Chinese government considers to be rare or endangered, including giant pandas, golden monkeys, Asian black bears and pangolins.

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China’s wild animals face a lot of challenges, including illegal hunting, consumption of wild animal products and habitat degradation. There are also many traditional dishes and medicines that use wild animal products such as bear bile and tiger bone.

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According to the new law, anyone who eats the animals on this list of 420 species or buys them for other illegal purposes will face a jail term of up to 10 years.

China has tried several methods to prevent mistreatment of rare animals, including a series of non-profit advertisements endorsed by celebrities like retired basketball star Yao Ming. But eating rare wild animals is still seen as a symbol of social status, which partially explains why the illegal hunting industry is still able to prosper.

Related: 6 Critically Endangered Animals Threatened By Extinction

The new legislation also aims to clear up ambiguities with those who buy the prey of illegal hunting. Up until now, Chinese citizens could get away with participating in such activities with no ramifications.

China has long provided a major market for illegal wildlife trade, which has caused species populations to plunge across the globe, but the government has pledged to fight this crime through tougher legislation and crackdowns. The Chinese-led international operation code-named Cobra II has already solved 350 cases involving more than 400 suspects, and captured more than three tonnes of ivory and ivory products, over 1,000 hides and a number of other wildlife products.

Via The Guardian

Images: Phing and  fortherock