a1 Susan Shen, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
a2 Dr Ernest D. Ables, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 82843, USA.
a3 Professor Xiao Qian-zhu, Department of Wildlife, NE Forestry College, Harbin, China.
The Chinese regard conservation as important, more for economic than for aesthetic or moral reasons. An economic rationale is a persuasive tool in a developing country such as China. The trade in wild-animal products plus the potential of rare and endemic wildlife species to attract much-needed foreign exchange are important factors. Rational use of wildlife through domestication and sustained-yield harvesting can alleviate pressures on wild populations and help to ensure genetic diversity for the future. Rare and endemic species such as the giant panda attract foreign exchange through tourism and research, and conservation measures preserve a cultural heritage, something of increasing importance to the Chinese.
Several questions arise, however. How do economically unimportant species fit into this scheme? How can conflicts of interest created by economic incentives be resolved? Will the shortage of trained manpower undermine the conservation effort? Once these obstacles are resolved, China may become a leader i n wildlife conservation among the developing countries of the world, and show that conservation and development can co-exist.