The lunar Chinese new year (the Year of the Pig) begins on February 18, but as people prepare to celebrate, in an emailed statement on Friday the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC, a joint program of the WWF and World Conservation Union has warned them to pay attention to what they eat. Some of the food on their plates could come from engendered animal and plant species.
‘It’s about being aware of what you consume and the impact it can have on species and the environment,’ explains Timothy Lam of TRAFFIC. ‘Some people are not aware of which species are under pressure of over-exploitation. Our advice is based on threats to wildlife and the environment from unsustainable trade and consumer demand.’
Examples of delicacies that should only be bought and/or consumed if from sustainable sources are:
1) Sharks’ fin soup
Shark populations are under threat from finning, a practice whereby fishermen remove the fin for the soup, typical at new year banquets, and dump the rest of the shark overboard to bleed to death.
2) Facai moss
A rare black moss eaten in the belief it will boost wealth (the name means ‘get rich’ in Chinese).
Abalone and sea cucumber are particularly endangered by poaching and illegal harvesting. ‘Ask your supplier if their abalone has been legally sourced, regardless of the country it comes from, before buying,’ reads the TRAFFIC statement.
Consumers, finally, should also beware of health tonics containing substances and organs from threatened species, such as tigers, turtles and pangolins.