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Seven on trial for killing and selling endangered birds

By Zhang Yi and Feng Zhiwei ( Updated: 2016-02-14 19:44

Seven people charged with killing and selling 63 endangered wild birds have appeared in court in Hunan in the first case of its kind in Hunan province.

The trial began in early January with the Eastern Dongting Lake Nature Reserve, where the birds were poached with toxic substances, as one of the plaintiffs.

However, as the amount of compensation is far from the profits to be made from wildlife poaching, Gao Dali, head of the reserve's security department, believes more efforts should be made to protect birds through legal channels.

"The pricing standards of these birds, set in government regulations, are far below their market value. This is a major obstacle we are facing in the lawsuit," Gao said.

The forest bureau of Yueyang in Hunan province, the local administrative authority of wildlife reserves, is seeking a compensation of nearly 54,000 yuan ($8,000).

Police began to investigate the gang on Jan 18 last year when law enforcement officers with the reserve found a boat carrying dozens of dead endangered water birds including cygnets, spot-billed ducks and white herons.

The compensation is set at values in state regulations made in the 1990s, in which the price of a cygnet stood at 80 yuan and a white heron 250 yuan plus an administration fee of 16.7 times of their prices.

The suspects, who are also facing criminal charges, were found to have poisoned and killed the wild birds with pesticides, selling them to restaurants in Changde City between November 2014 and January 2015, according to the People's Court of Yueyanglou District.

A report by Xinhua News Agency cited the court as saying two suspects turned themselves in to police, five others were caught and the rest are still on the run.

The court will give a verdict at a later date.

Gao said he hopes the litigation will be a warning to law breakers with legal consequences - penalties of jail time as well as a financial punishment.

He added that it is hard for law enforcement personnel to collect evidence of bird poachers and bring them to justice. "There are a lot of efforts to be made in protecting the wildlife habitats".

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