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Freeing animals dangerous for wild environment

By Zhi Yun (China Daily)

08:23, July 05, 2012

Local residents prepare to bury dead snakes in Miaoerdong village in Xinglong county, Hebei province, on June 3. A group of people set thousands of snakes free near the village on June 1, arousing panic among villagers. (China Daily/Zhang Jian)

Freeing captured animals, an act often carried out by Buddhists or animal lovers, could lead to ecological disasters such as an imbalanced food chain, an invasion of foreign species or the spread of contagious diseases, according to experts.

The warning came after a group of people set thousands of snakes free near Miaoerdong village of Xinglong county in Hebei province, on June 1.

The incident aroused panic among residents over their safety and risks to their farmland. It resulted in the snakes being driven away or killed over several days.

According to Xinglong county forestry public security bureau, the people who released the snakes are believed to be animal lovers who organized the activity online and bought the reptiles from a pet market in Beijing without knowing where the snakes came from or whether they were poisonous or not.

Liu Huili, an animal rights campaigner with Green Beagle, an NGO in Beijing, said that setting snakes free without knowing their species and living environments might lead to their deaths if the geography is not suitable for their survival.

In addition, the sheer number of snakes could have resulted in all the frogs being eaten in a very short time, she said. The ecological balance in the village could be destroyed and the snakes would eventually die of hunger.

In another incident, researchers from the South China Institute of Endangered Animals said they found more than 200 Brazilian tortoises on Baiyun Mountain in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, after carrying out a survey between November 2008 and October 2011.

The tortoise is listed among the 100 most dangerous invading species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

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