Want to be Beijing cool? Try bird watching
Beijing is a global city famous for its symbols of Chinese history, governance and culture. It is not, however, known for its connection to mother nature.  But those prejudices may not be entirely accurate, and young people across the city are discovering a fact about the city: it boasts a remarkable biodiversity, especially for birds.  Li Siqi is one of these young birding enthusiasts. The 20-year-old woman took up the hobby in 2013 after she, “took a photo of a pretty bird and then started looking online to find out what it was. That got me interested.” Li now owns an environmental education company that takes families birdwatching, and she also teaches children about nature and birds bot
Chinese sturgeon faces extinction because of low sex drive: study
Scientists are debating if China’s most ancient fish - the sturgeon - has lost its sex drive, putting the species at serious risk of extinction. Regarded as a “national treasure,” the wild Chinese sturgeon, which can only be found in the Yangtze River, is a species that has existed for 140 million years and can grow as big as a shark. Two recent studies have aimed to shed light on why the sturgeon is in danger. But their findings were markedly different – and spawned an unusual and ugly tit-for-tat among the academics.  A member of one study, Professor Liu Huanzhang, accused the other research team of being “narcissists” who “cherry-picked data ... used imagination, made up stories.” One t
The next pandemic and how to beat it
Since the start of this century, two disease outbreaks have been caused by new coronaviruses that made the leap from animal hosts to people. Covid-19 is the third. Medical science is fighting back with the tools it has and building new defenses, but the evidence suggests the three viruses behind these diseases are just the vanguard of an army of potential pathogens that may number in the thousands. That such a large pool of viruses exists in so-called animal reservoirs is not a surprise to scientists and researchers who study them.  But the concern is that evolving human behavior, both social and economic, is increasingly bumping up against new viruses living in animal habitats. Experts say
Frog farmers make appeal to keep their livelihoods from croaking
Frog breeders in southern China have appealed to authorities to allow them to keep rearing the animals despite a national ban on the wildlife trade triggered by the coronavirus epidemic. “The government’s forestry department has banned the trading of all wild animals, including our 11,000 tons of domesticated [East Asian bullfrogs]. Where do we go from here?” wrote a group of breeders from Jiangmen in the southern province of Guangdong. It included the names and phone numbers of more than 100 signatories. “Frog farming is no longer a source of living. The government asked us to try something else. What are we capable of doing?” they said, adding that the industry employed 10,000 people in on
China makes it illegal to trade or eat wild animals
China said it will ban the trade and consumption of wild animals, a multibillion-dollar industry that employs millions of people, as part of efforts to curb virus outbreaks. The Covid-19 epidemic that has killed more than 2,660 people in China and spread overseas has been linked to wild animals carrying a coronavirus and sold in markets for food.  Most researchers believe the virus jumped from a market animal to a human host, mutated and then infected others “Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the eating of wild animals, and the huge hidden threat to public health from the practice, have attracted wide attention,” the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress said, state broadcaster CCT
China looks ready to ban wildlife trade
The Chinese government is expected to fast-track a ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals after the practice was linked to the Covid-19 outbreak. On Monday the official news agency Xinhua reported that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s highest legislative body, would review the ban at a meeting on February 24. The committee will also discuss the decision to postpone the annual legislative session that had been due to take place in early March. Trading and consumption of wild animals has been practiced in China for centuries but has been blamed for helping to spread the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, the disease which has so far infected more than
When Tigers roamed the concrete jungle of Hong Kong
Should you ever encounter a tiger in Hong Kong, run downhill. The big cat’s front legs are shorter than its hind limbs, its descent will be awkward and give you the edge as you escape. But since the last sightings of the South China tiger in Hong Kong were in the 1970s, that’s unlikely to be necessary. Villagers minding livestock or cutting grass on hillsides, however, would likely have grown up heeding that advice passed down from older generations. Author and graphic designer John Saeki learned about this from a friend whose mother is an elderly villager in Hong Kong’s northeastern New Territories. His friend’s mother had once seen a partially devoured calf, presumably the result of a tige
Illegal wildlife traders evade consequences as pangolins face extinction
Sometime in the middle of 2017, Hong Kong businessman Wong Muk-nam disappeared without a trace. The 62-year-old owned a plastic trading factory in Guangdong, according to a friend who lives in the southern Chinese province but refused to reveal his name. “We were chatting on WeChat, but suddenly he was out of reach,” he recalled. “No responses to messages, phone calls. It was really unusual because he always responded quickly.” Then Wong’s name turned up as a key suspect in an international syndicate smuggling pangolin scales and ivory from Africa. According to mainland court documents, Wong and his associates smuggled at least three shipments of more than 4.4 ton of pangolin scales worth $
Welcome to China’s ‘Valley of the Cats’
Located on the Tibetan plateau, Namsei Township in China’s Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai province is home to endangered species including snow leopards.  The big felines have earned the district the name “Valley of the Cats."  It is inside Sanjiangyuan Park, one of the first wildlife areas to be included in China’s new national park system. 
Tracking the pangolin, the world’s most-trafficked animal
The forest is so humid I can taste the moisture in the air. Barely any light penetrates the rainforest canopy in this part of the Central African Republic. Weaving through a tangle of trees, we’re following Etienne Ndobola, a Ba’Aka tracker working with the Sangha Pangolin Project. After a few minutes, we find two other trackers under a tree. Silently, they point upwards – and there is little Ndima, a black-bellied pangolin, shuffling along leafy branches on the hunt for ants, which he’ll zap with a long, sticky tongue. Talon-like claws grip the bark and a long, scaled tail wraps around the tree for balance. The pangolin project is run from the Sangha Lodge, eight simple wooden chalets tucke