Very little is known about the issue of wildlife conservation within China. Even China specialists get a meager ration of stories about pandas giving birth in zoos, or poachers in some remote setting being apprehended. But what does the future hold for China's wildlife?
In this thoughtful work the leading U.S. expert on wildlife projects in Western China presents a multi-faceted assessment of the topic. Richard B. Harris draws on twenty years of experience working in China, and incorporates perspectives ranging from biology through Chinese history and tradition, to interpret wildlife conservation issues in a cultural context.
In non-technical language Harris shows that, particularly in its vast western sections where most species of wildlife still have a chance to survive, China has adopted a strongly preservationist, hands-off approach to wildlife without confronting the larger and more difficult problem of habitat loss. This policy treats wildlife conservation as a strictly technical problem--and thus prioritizes captive breeding to meet the demand for animal products--while ignoring the manifold cultural, social, and economic dimensions that truly dictate how wild animals will fare in their interaction with the physical and human environments. The author concludes that any successes this policy achieves will be temporary.