FIREFLY EVENT FORCED TO CLOSE following ngo CRITICISM
- - - -
A firefly show in Changsha closed on Aug 9, two days after opening, due to concerns raised by a local wildlife conservation association.
On Aug 7, the so-called "firefly theme park" opened to public in Changsha's Orange Island with a display of thousands of fireflies. The first of its kind in Changsha, as it was advertised, the firefly show was scheduled to last until Aug 30.
Visitors line up to enter a "firefly park" in Orange Island, Changsha, on Aug 8. [Photo by Wang Mingyang/Xiaoxiang Morning Post]
Tickets were sold at 39.9 yuan ($6.43) each by group purchase and the full price is 50 yuan. Nearly 5,000 tickets were sold through online group purchase on the opening day. But as visitors to the show comment on group purchase sites, the experience at the park was not satisfactory. The theme park was only a temporarily built tent which made the temperature high inside without suitable ventilation.
It also took only one day for an open letter by Changsha Wildlife Conservation Association (CSWCA) to spread rapidly through the Internet with over 60,000 clicks, said local media rednet.cn.
In the letter entitled "I Won’t Go to the Firefly Grave", CSWCA not only questioned the legal sources of the insects, but also pointed out the act might break the ecological balance and cause an exotic species invasion.
The letter quoted a study by Fu Xinhua, associate professor from Huazhong Agricultural University, who said that many e-businesses claim to have artificial breeding bases but actually sell wild fireflies.
Fu, the first doctor in the country to specialize in firefly study, said that there are great cost differences between bred fireflies and those captured in the wild. A firefly from artificial breeding costs around 15 yuan, while those captured in the wild are sold at 0.5 yuan for each, according to Fu based on market investigation.
“We hereby call on every resident in Changsha who loves nature: do not visit the park before the organizers show all the legal procedures and sources of the fireflies. Please share this letter to people around you and don’t turn the beautiful park into a graveyard of the fireflies,” the letter says.
Gui Bolin, the organizer of the show, announced on Saturday night that the park would be closed the next day due to multiple reasons, acknowledging that "the open letter" is one of the factors. Gui said that during an interview with Xiaoxiang Morning Post that his original intention to organize the event was to spread firefly knowledge among children in Changsha.
Responding to the accusation that the insects in the park might be illegally-captured, Gui said that they were bought from a firefly breeding base in Yunnan province. However, Gui failed to show the Certificate of Wildlife Transportation during check-ups by Changsha Forestry Bureau on Aug 9.
"No wildlife can be transported without this certificate, let alone be displayed to the public," said Liu, a principal of the forest protection department of the bureau.
Yang Haiming, an expert from the School of Life Sciences in Hunan Normal University, commented that although the firefly currently is not under statutory protection, it is an obligation on the organizer’s part to clarify the sources of the insects.
Changsha Wildlife Conservation Association is a professional, non-profit, voluntary, and independent social organization established in 2004. It's under the supervision of Changsha Forestry Bureau.
- - - -