August 9, 2006

China to let tourists hunt endangered species: paper

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is to auction licenses to
foreigners to hunt wild animals, including endangered species,
a newspaper said on Wednesday.

The government would auction licenses based on types and
numbers of wild animals, ranging from about $200 for a wolf,
the only carnivore on the list, to as much as $40,000 for a
yak, the Beijing Youth Daily said.

The auction, taking place on Sunday in Chengdu, capital of
the southwestern province of Sichuan, would be the first of its
kind in Chinese history, it added.

"Some animals are from the first and second category of
national wildlife protection, but with the strict limitations
in place, the hunting could not destroy wild animal
populations," the daily said.

The report made no mention of the endangered giant panda,
some 1,500 of which survive in nature reserves in southwestern

Five western areas, including Qinghai, Shaanxi and Gansu
provinces and the autonomous regions of Ningxia and Xinjiang,
are involved in the auction.

Hunting of animals is popular with Chinese who like to eat
exotic meats or use animal parts in medicines for their
perceived aphrodisiac or medicinal properties.

But the hunting licenses would be available only to
foreigners, given China's strict rules on gun control, the
daily said.

"Hunting is not slaughtering," it quoted an official at a
wild animal protection department as saying.

Proceeds from the auction would be used for wild animal
protection, the report said.