Illegal bird catching in Beijing covered by Reuters

A few weeks ago, I profiled local ‘anti-poacher’ Gu Xuan who has dedicated his life to stamping out the illegal capture of wild birds in Beijing.  His story deserves to be celebrated and, although an article on Birding Beijing probably doesn’t help much, I hoped it might be a catalyst for gaining more high profile attention.  Fortunately, Samantha Vadas from the Reuters office in Beijing picked up on the story and was keen to film a short piece about Gu Xuan and his efforts.

Last Monday we met up near the Drum Tower in central Beijing to interview Gu Xuan.

The result has been published on TRT World and hopefully will be syndicated to other outlets around the world.  You can see it here:


I am pleased to say that, since publication, there have been several donations to his crowdfunding site (only available in China) that will ensure he can continue his efforts.

Big thanks to Samantha and the Reuters team for shining a light on this illegal activity and helping to accelerate its eradication from Beijing.


10 thoughts on “Illegal bird catching in Beijing covered by Reuters”

  1. I was really interested to see the post on Birding Beijing website re bird poaching in Beijing. Just a question please – if it is illegal in China to trap wild birds – is it also illegal to sell them? It seems the markets would be a good place to catch the poachers / sellers.

  2. Hi Lynne. It’s a good question. The issue is that the burden of proof lies with the police to prove that the birds were caught in the wild. This is obviously not workable as it requires the police to have expert knowledge about species likely to have been taken in the wild or bred in captivity. Having said that, we are now seeing most wild bird markets in Beijing being closed down with the effect that trade is switching to online platforms such as Taobao and WeChat. Online trade is harder to study and control, and there is a now an increasingly big responsibility on online trading platforms to police what is for sale and to pass on any evidence of illegal activity to the police. Personally, I don’t think online sales platforms should be allowed to sell any wildlife or wildlife-crime related products (such as mist nets) and they should face large penalties if these are found for sale. Having the legal liability with the trading platform would be the best incentive for these companies to get their house in order. My ongoing and tortuous discussions with Alibaba about their online platform, Taobao, demonstrate how difficult it is to get these companies to act responsibly in the current system. Thanks for the question! Terry

    1. Hi Terry, thanks for your prompt and interesting reply – even if a bit depressing! It is just a constant battle at every turn trying to protect wildlife. Maybe they could come up with certain species of birds that were illegal to keep in captivity – it is probably that way with mammals? I was in China in 2017 on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper tour so I take a special interest in what is happening there. Keep up the good work! regards, Lynne (NZ)

      1. Thanks Lynne. China does have a list of ‘specially protected’ species but these are mostly the large and obvious species such as cranes and bustards. Smaller birds, even Spoon-billed Sandpiper, do not feature at the moment. There is an ongoing revision of the list but, despite many years of discussion between interested government departments, there has been no agreement. On the positive side, it is illegal to take ANY bird from the wild without a licence, only granted for scientific research. Hope you enjoyed your trip in 2017! Best wishes, Terry

    1. Thanks Mike. Gu Xuan has a great story to tell, so I’m not surprised it was picked up by Reuters. It will be important to try to get more Chinese media coverage, too. Working on that!

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