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300 stations to prevent epidemic
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-02 05:47

At least 300 monitoring stations at State level are expected to be set up throughout China to prevent a possible epidemic in wildlife, including bird flu from migratory birds.

"We have, so far, set up 150 of such stations across China along with 402 local ones at provincial level, but they are only emergency measures for a national monitoring network," a forestry official said.

But these stations are far from adequate for China to cope with an epidemic that may possibly strike its wildlife in the days to come, Zhao Xuemin, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), said yesterday at a conference on the issue.

"We need at least 300 monitoring stations at the State level to form a long-term monitoring mechanism and prevent a possible outbreak of wildlife disease, with potential sources of such threat controlled," he said.

He urged SFA's local authorities to keep an eye on the epidemic situation in areas where migratory birds are going to live during the winter, particularly some lakes, water areas, swamps and river deltas.

To date, migratory birds have arrived at such areas in Central and South China to live there during winter, according to the latest survey by SFA.

SFA has chosen eight such areas, including some breeding places of migratory birds, as the first batch of its key monitoring targets.

Intensified patrol will be carried out there to look for any abnormal changes in migratory birds, while locals and their livestock are prohibited from entering such areas, or from doing anything that would disturb the birds, Zhao said.

Top priority will be given to the prevention of epidemic in wildlife, especially China's rare and endangered species of birds like ibis, and the species of crane and pheasant.

Zhao also made clear that this winter, SFA will crack down on any poaching, illegal trade, transportation and smuggling of wild birds and cut off any channels of putting wildlife in the market.

China has a total of 1,332 species of migratory birds, over 13 per cent of the world's total, experts said.

In another development, no new bird flu outbreak was reported in Liaoning after 21 days of inspection, and thus the local government announced quarantine relief yesterday afternoon.

(China Daily 12/02/2005 page2)

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