China has the highest biodiversity outside of the tropics. Yet China's 10% economic growth rate has a high environmental cost, killing wildlife both directly and indirectly. China's growing upper and middle classes has been increasing demand for many traditional foods and medicines that use animal parts. Bat blood, monkey' milk, camel hump, shark fin or turtles eggs for food, while powdered Rhino horns are pushed as medicines for many ailments. These, even more unfortunately, have not even been proven effective by science. The illegal wildlife trade globally, in many endangered and critical endangered species amounts to $15 to 20 billion annually, and is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. Deforestation due to logging and slash and burn agriculture destroys wildlife habitats. Untreated industrial waste and domestic sewage has polluted its waterways, killing aquatic life due to eutrophication. Coal, which is the main source of energy in China, has resulted in air pollution that leads to acid rain and destruction of forests which are habitats of animals.
The primates are the largest group of mammals threatened in China. There are less than 20 of Hainan Black crested Gibbon left. Due to deforestation there are only two groups of the Eastern Black Crested Gibbon with a total of 50 left. The White headed Langur is suspected to be already extinct. The critically endangered Myanmar Snub Nosed Monkey and other monkey species are hunted for food drastically reducing their numbers.
The big cats like South China Tiger and Amur Leopard are critically endangered due to loss of habitats and poaching. Many of the big cats like tiger or small cats like lynx are hunted for their fur. Moreover, the South China Tiger, leopards and Asian golden cats are hunted for their bones which are used in traditional medicines. There are four subspecies of tigers all of which are endangered and a fifth subspecies, the Caspian Tiger is already extinct.
Other Endangered Chinese Terrestrial Mammals
The rare Pangolin is endangered as it is the most poached and trafficked mammal. Rhinoceroses, camels, and many species of deer are among some of the other animals that are also endangered.
Threatened Aquatic Mammals
China has endangered whales, dolphins, seals and porpoises in its coastal waters and out to sea. The Baiji or Chinese river dolphin has less than a dozen individuals and is considered to be functionally extinct. Water and noise pollution, fishing and construction of dams that obstructed movement of water are the cause of its extinction. Now-threatened oceanic whales, including the Blue whales, Western Gray whale, and North Pacific Right whales, were plentiful in the past. The latter two species have been hunted to near extinction mainly by Japanese whalers, but also Russian and American whaling.
Measures to Increase Endangered Animal Populations in China
China is using multiple strategies to deal with its wildlife and environmental crisis. It is using public awareness programs, specifically to highlight the impact of demand for rare delicacies on wildlife populations. There have been some successes, with killing of sharks for fin soup already being reduced. To deal with air pollution and acid rain, China is investing heavily in renewable energy sources in an effort to move away from coal. The government is trying to tackle air and water pollution also by requiring industries to take assume more responsibility of dealing with their waste.
Many of the endangered species are classified as protected species. All of the Gibbons species are classified as "Class 1 Protected Species". All cats except the leopard cat and marbled cat are protected. The four remaining tigers subspecies are protected in designated nature reserves. China was one of the first countries to join an international treaty to protect and save whales.