Endangered wildlife protection is a core policy for the conservation of biodiversity in Korea. The country’s endangered wildlife is classified as Class I or Class II depending on the degree of endangerment, with 51 species and 195 species designated, respectively. Illegal capture or collection is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to 30 million won (if repeated, up to seven years imprisonment and a fine of up to 50 million won). National distribution surveys are being conducted to identify any population changes in and threats to endangered wildlife. Projects to increase and restore endangered wildlife populations are also being carried out in addition to habitat protection. For example, 38 Asiatic black bears have been released into Jirisan Mountain since 2004, and as at August 2014, a total of 31 Asiatic black bears are living in the wild. Projects to increase and restore long-tailed goral and fox populations are taking place at Woraksan Mountain and Sobaeksan Mountain, respectively. Moreover, 24 ex-situ conservation institutions have been designated and are being supported to increase and conserve endangered wildlife populations outside of habitats. The National Endangered Species Restoration Center will be built by 2017 as an institution to oversee national species restoration projects.
Alien species refers to a species that is introduced by artificial or natural means and has come to exist outside of its place of origin or habitat. In accordance with the Act on the Conservation and Use of Biodiversity, the Ministry of Environment is continuing its efforts to formulate the Alien Species Management Plan (2014-2018) and protect the ecosystem from threats posed by incoming alien species. Alien species that have been introduced are evaluated in terms of ecological risks, and those that are found to be of high risk are designated as invasive alien species (first designated in 1998). A total of 18 invasive alien species have been designated, including nutria (Myocastor coypus) and bur cucumber (Sicyos angulatus). The River Basin (Regional) Environment Offices, local governments, and private organizations are working on projects to eliminate invasive alien species from each region. For preemptive management of alien species introduction, 24 potential risk species have been designated and were announced in November 2013, and there is a system to carry out a risk assessment on any person who attempts to import or introduce these species.
The Ministry of Environment also makes efforts to rescue and treat injured wild animals. It has been working since 2004 on a project to establish wildlife rescue centers in provinces nationwide. A total of 11 wildlife rescue centers and two facilities of the Korea National Park Service have been designated professional wild animal rescue and treatment institutions, with more than 6,000 wild animals rescued and treated each year. Recovered individuals are released into nature after rehabilitation training. Since the second half of 2000, the state has been offering partial assistance to private organizations that participate in wild animal rescue and treatment activities.
In addition, the Mid- to Long-Term Plan for Wild Animal Disease Control (2012-2020) was formulated in May 2012 for the systematic management of wild animal diseases, and construction of the National Wildlife Health Research Center is under preparation.
The Ministry of Environment is also striving to eradicate poaching. It has established the Poaching Prevention Headquarters and organized private poaching watchdogs while also forming poaching surveillance teams in the Regional Environment Offices and local governments to ensure intensive poaching control. In 2012, it exposed and took measures against 480 cases of illegal poaching activities. It also worked together with private organizations to remove approximately 19,000 snares, traps, and other illegal poaching equipment set up throughout the country.
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Last modified : 2016-11-03 22:58
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