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China

Clipping the Fin Trade

Two years ago, diver Michael Aw was monitoring the health of local coral some 1,000 miles south of Bombay. Because this major tourist site in the Republic of Maldives is protected from most fishing, "what I least expected to see was a dying, finned shark," he says. Someone had hauled in the 6-foot gray reef shark, sliced off all its fins, and then tossed it overboard. To cover up the act, the plunderer had tied a 15-pound piece of coral to what remained of the tail to ensure the carcass would sink.

Sharks at Risk

Sixty feet under the blue Pacific, a glistening silver rocket snaked towards me and, even though I knew it would not harm me, a shiver ran down my spine. Richard, my dive buddy, had warned me, "Hold your breath or your bubbles will scare them away." But when faced with a Galapagos shark in the open sea at eye level for the first time, I felt a pressing need to breathe rapidly. It cruised to within a few feet as I tried to make myself inconspicuous among the rocks. Finally it glided away.

Project to Save Rare Deer Wins China Conservation Award

More than a century ago, as many animal species were hunted to extinction at the imperial hunting ground near Beijing, the rare Pere David's deer were saved because the Chinese royal court sent a few to Europe.

Today, the large, ruddy-colored deer, with antlers that look as though they have been placed on backward, are thriving in special reserves in central and northern China, thanks to a local conservation group that reintroduced the rare animal from a British sanctuary.

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