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ENDANGERED by Alex Thomas China 2009 ©


CHINA’S NETWORK 网络 Food FOOD (Includes: Turtles, Snakes, Crocodiles) FOOD FOOD FOOD MEDICINE FOOD Medicine MEDICINE MEDICINE MEDICINE (Includes: Tigers, Bears, Sharks, Monkeys) IVORY MEDICINE IVORY Ivory. IVORY IVORY PETS IVORY PETS Pets. PETS PETS PETS Turtles and other small reptiles) FUR (Includes: FUR FUR FUR Fur. FUR

Guangzhou, Guandong Province Major processing and consumptionCONSUMPTION centre. GUANGZHOU-MAJOR AND PROCESS CENTRE


SICHUAN PROVINCE Major consumption centre. SICHUAN PROVINCE SHANDONG Beijing SHANDONG Major processing centre.

5,000 Tigers in 12 farms

8,000 Bears in 160 farms

900 million Turtles in 1,000 farms 70,000 Primates in 32 farms

Previous page: Cobra at Panyu Snake Restaurant. Opposite: China’s illegal wildlife network. Above: Statistics for captive animals in China. Next page: Indicative illegal wildlife trade map.



nsatiable Chinese appetites are the driving force behind the $20 billion USD illegal wildlife network; the worlds third largest elicit trade, surpassed only by arms and drugs. This complex network extends throughout each of the worlds continents, intensifying in Southeast Asia. Rich biodiversity, well developed transport infrastructures, high profit margins and lax law enforcement, makes Southeast Asia a haven for wildlife smugglers. Once wildlife products breach entry points along China’s 21,000 km border, they are widely distributed throughout the country and her 1.3 billion citizens. There are three main centres of intense consumption and processing, most notably in Guangzhou, the gateway to Southeast Asia. Despite local and international laws, endangered animals continue to flood Guangzhou’s live animal markets, pet stores and pharmacies. These illegally traded animals have laid the foundations for both legal and illegal breeding farms. With the emphasis on commercial gain, these farms fail to replenish depleting wild populations that they still continue to exhaust.

Left: Red Eared Slider Turtle at Huangsha Market. Above: Feng Minghe and Zheng Ying Yuan of South China Nature Society at Huadiwan Market.

$1,0000.00 USD

$2,200.00 USD

Opposite: Buyers purchase Turtles at Huadiwan Market. Above, left to right: Tiger skin, Crocodile, Leopard fur, Next page: Zheng monitors Haizu Shark Market.

$150.00 USD



he practice of Traditional Medicine or TCM as it is more commonly referred too, is a health care system which treats patients with plant, animal, and mineral remedies. With its origins dating back over 2,000 years, TCM has acquired a list in excess of 1,500 animals that includes many endangered animals such as the Sumatran Tiger. A single Tiger paw can fetch around $3,000 USD. Modern day interpretation of this century old Chinese wisdom has seen people list curative properties in some of the worlds most endangered animals. It is often the case that the more rare the animal, the more powerful the effect. The blind pursuit of these traditions has led to the destruction of China’s wildlife habitats and pushed many species to the brink of extinction, creating a demand for international imports. Wildlife consumption in Guangzhou and the Guangdong province is seen as extreme even by other provinces in China. Century old traditions of consuming wildlife means endangered wildlife are still regarded as culinary delicacies. Increased affluence in the city has allowed more people take part in this consumption.

$200.00 USD $200.00 USD

Previous page: Monkey skeleton. Opposite: Sumatran Tiger paw. Above, left to right: Brown Bears genitels, Tiger tooth, Tiger penis.

$800.00 USD

$1,000.00 USD

$3,000.00 USD

$5.00 USD

$1000.00 USD

Opposite : Shark fins for sale at Haizu Market. A Great White Shark fin can fetch around $1000.00 USD. Above: Sea Horses at Qingping Market.

There has been a 50% decline in the worlds Sea Horse population between 1990 to 1995, 20 million Sea Horses are consumed in China each year.


CROCODILE 鳄鱼 hina’s appetite for the Crocodile began centuries ago with unsustainable consumption of the once prevalent Chinese Alligator, leaving a mere 120 in the wild today. Unless extreme actions are taken the Chinese Alligator will become extinct in the wild.

Scarcity of Chinese Alligators has directed smugglers and poachers south into neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand. Thousands of illegally traded Crocodiles have crossed the border and helped establish Chinese breeding farms, yet many farmers still continue remove from the wild. Around 40% of the Crocodiles found in Guangzhou’s “legal” farms are illegally traded. Scott, of the Panyu Crocodile farm admitted that at least 50% of his livestock were smuggled from Vietnam. Scott explains that, “Customers can taste the difference, they want that wild taste.” Crocodiles are seldom used in TCM, however it is believed that the meat is good for memory and can relieve lung illnesses, as the Crocodile can hold its breath under water for 2 hours. The meat is very popular during Guangzhou winters , people make soups out of every part of the Crocodile. At $9.00 per 500g, the meat is relatively expensive and is often used to exhibit a persons wealth.

Opposite: Panyu Crocodile farmers ship Crocodiles. Above: Crate of Crocodiles arrive at Huangsha Crocodile Restaurant. Left: Frozen Crocodile parts at the same restaurant.

Opposite: Crocodile farmers remove organs from a live Crocodile. Above: Seller weighs a Crocodile head for a customer at Huangsha Market.

$9.00 USD /500g



ome 15 tonnes of Snakes are consumed each day in the Guangdong Province during Autumn. In TCM, Snake’s blood is considered to be a potent male aphrodisiac and the meat is said to be good for vision and the Lower Spine.

Snakes are used in various applications from leather, TCM, pets and food. They are smuggled from various continents that include Africa and South America.The Cobra is one of the most sought after Snakes in Guangzhou restaurants, fetching around $70USD in the Water Snake Restaurant. It is a common dish for businessmen and government officials looking to impress guests or when completing business transitions. At the Water Snake Restaurant, customers can hand pick a range of endangered Snakes and the chef will prepare in front of them. Huay Bia, the head chef at the restaurant claimed that; “We have the best Snakes in town, because they are fresh from the wild.” Some sellers have even managed to successfully breed some species of Snakes including Cobras. International laws strictly prohibit the commercial breeding of endangered Snakes, however, lack of enforcememnt means the practice is a reality in Guangzhou.

$20.00 USD /500g

Previous page: Cobra at Water Snake Restaurant. Opposite: Chef prepares the Cobra in front of customers. Above: Chef offers Cobra to customers.

Opposite: Caged Cobras fight at the Water Snake Restaurant. Above: Stack of dried Snakes at a street stall in QingpingMarket.



here are 300 million Turtles sold each year in China, worth an estimtaed $750 million USD. 99 species are traded in Guangzhou alone, ranging from common to critically endangered. Chinese demand for Turtles is a serious threat to depleting Asian Turtle populations. Popular species such as the Chinese Box Turtle have been pushed to the brink of extinction in the wild. Alike the Snake, Turtles are used in a wide range of applications from pets and ornaments to food and TCM. It is believed that the Turtle can confer wisdom, health and longevity. Some believe that Turtles can even treat cancers, however this has not been scientifically proven. The last 25 years has seen China’s Turtle import network extend beyond Asia into the Americas and Africa. The World Chelonian Trust estimate that between 2003-2005 32 million American Turtles were exported to China. There are around 900 million Turtles in breeding farms across China, 30% of which are critically endangered species. The scale of the farming makes law enforcement difficult. The farms have sufficient numbers to be self producing, however many famers are still supplementing populations with smuggled Turtles from the wild.

$60.00 USD

$100.00 USD

Previous page: Western Painted Turtle. Opposite: Sellers kill Turtles at Qingping Market. Above, left to right: FlowerBack Box Turtle,Chinese Box Turtle and Chinese Three Striped Turtle.

$80.00 USD

Opposite: Seller removes Turtle organs to sell to Guangzhou restaursnts. Above: Sign advertising Big Headed Turtles for sale.


THE TRADE äş¤ć˜“

here is a popular saying in Guangzhou that states; people here will eat anything with four legs except a table, anything that flies except a plane and anything in water except a boat. A 2008 study by a national conservationist group; TRAFFIC, found that half of the city dwellers had eaten wildlife in the previous 12 months, and Snake was identified as the most popular dish. Guangzhou is the capital of the richest and most powerful province in the south of China, where the tradition of eating wildlife dates back centuries. Demand temporally dropped in 2003 when the outbreak of SARS was blamed on pathogens spread by wild animals. However, consumption has surged back at an increase of 10% each year. Recent economic success in Guangzhou has seen more consumers indulge in foods once exclusive to the cities elite.

Opposite: Wildlife seller objects to being photographed at Qingping Market. Above: Consumer counts money at Qingping Market.

Previous page: Consumers buy endangered Turtles at Huawdiwan Market. Opposite: Sellers sell endangered animals parts in Panyu. Above: Seller weighs a Tiger claw for a customer.

Opposite: Customers purchase Crocodile parts at Huangsha Market. Right: Sellers sketch of the best Crocodile parts to eat.



he latest challenge to Guangzhou’s appetite for endangered wildlife is in the form of the NGO, South China Nature Society or SCNS as they are commonly referred to. Established in 2008, this young band of animal rights activist, are stepping in to meet government shortcomings, by monitoring and reporting illegal trade in the cities markets and restaurant. SCNS form part of a network of five animal rights activists groups across China, that operate under the guidance of the NGO; Green Eyes China, based in Wenzhou, eastern China. Feng established Green Eyes China in 2000, after he witnessed animal cruelty during a school field trip to Guangzhou. “I dream of a Green Green Eyes Global, people all over the world working together to educate people on animal welfare.” Explains Feng. SCNS operate educational and outreach programmes for various schools and universities in Guangzhou and the south of China. Aside from education SCNS are regularly involved in undercover investigations and seizure of illegally sold wildlife. Corruption and lax enforcement has meant members are often put themselves at risks with angry government officials and businessmen. SCNS also monitor and maintain the habitats of China’s endangered wildlife in the southern provinces of China. “We only have one earth, it is up to us to protect it!” Stresses Wen Mei Cheng.

Opposite: Wen, Mei Cheng of South China Nature Society, protests against Hingua Restaurant holding an adult Nurse Shark captive.

Opposite: Wen confronts seller at Huadiwan Market. Above: TV Station covers a SCNS protest. Right: Feng identifies an endangered Turtle

“We only have one earth, it is up to us to protect it!“



he growing number of environmental university societies, marks a change in attitude amongst the next generation of China. SCNS recently completed a 4 week wildlife education tour at 20 universities in the south of China. Zheng stated, “ We were encourage by the large turn outs at the university, it shows that there are people here who care.” SCNS have particular close ties with two of Guangzhou’s local university societies; The Green Civilization Organisation (GCO) at South China Normal University and the Environmental Protection Association (EPA) at San Yat-Sen University. EPA recently held a recruitment day at the start of the new university year, where they enrolled just over 100 recruits, the highest enrolment of all the university societies. “ For the last two year we have recruited over 100 recruits and been one of the most popular societies here, its shows a change in culture. Together we can make a difference.” Li Weichi, EPA. EPA and GCO hold regular activities and campaigns for animal welfare both on campus and in their local environment. They also prepare workshops and lectures for fellow university students and neighboring schools. Above: The Green Civilisation Organisation hold an Induction day at South China Normal University.

“ Together we can make a difference.“

Opposite: EPA recruitment fair. Above: EPA emblem. Right: EPA member approaches fellow students during the recruitment fair.


THE FREED 被拯救的动物

he release of a 1,000 kg Nurse Shark from Hingue Restaurant is the latest victory for SCNS. A week of protests outside the restaurant caught the imagination of the public and attracted local and national media coverage, forcing the restaurant to release the shark to the local aquarium. SCNS were notified about the shark via their 24 hour emergency hotline ,which the general public can call if they witness any animal mistreatment or illegal trade. Recently the group established a small rehabilitation center tended by a volunteer vet. SCNS and Green Eyes have freed over 1,000 animals across China, stretching from Wenzhou to the Southern Island of Hainan, from Black Bears held captive in bile farms to captive Sea Turtles destined for Guangzhou’s pharmacies.

Opposite: Green Eyes volunteers reintroduce a Hawk into the wild. Above: Nurse Shark held captive at Hingue Restaurant, Guangzhou.

Opposite: Iguanas at Qingping Market. Above: Reindeer freed from Hainan Market. Right: Freed Owl in Wenzhou. Next page: Black bear freed from a Sichuan bile farm.



great deal of gratitude is owed to all of you who assisted me during the making of Endangered. My warmest thanks go out to Alona Movchan, Ana Brígida, Anneka Thomas, Arvind Mistry, Borris Austin, Brian Storm, Chonzou, Chan Dong, David Campbell, Ding, Dirk Claus, D.J.Clark, Duarte Lima Villas, Environmental Protection Association,Fengminghe, Green Civilisation Org.,Green Eyes China, Guihong Zhang, Jacqueline Thomas, Jerry Liu, Jim Dooley, Jin Jie Yin, Joseph Bolt, Jun Zhang , liQi, Mingxia Zhang, Miya Qiu, Pamela Chen, PhotoMA 09, Ulla Marquette, Robert Pledge, Sinbinho, Wonder - Wang Xi, Talhy Stotzer, Ting Ting, William Thomas, Wen Men Cheng, Ying Yuan Zheng, Yo Yo, Zhenyu Wen.

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Endangered - China’s Appetite for Wildlife. A photographic documentary by Alex Thomas. First Edition 2009 Š. Photographs by Alex Thomas and Zheng Ying Yuan All rights reserved. no part of this publication may be produced in any way without prior permission of the author. Printed in China.


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