China Animal Rights Endangered
Two-year-old golden monkey "Hongdou" receives a massage treatment from veterinarians in Hongshan Safari Park in Nanjing, in east China's Jiangsu province. Reuters

China is to imprison those who eat rare and endangered animals for 10 years or more after a legal loophole was closed by the government, according to state media.

China's legislature - the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) - voted to approve the measure, which created a new interpretation of China's Criminal Law.

Knowingly purchasing any wild animals killed through methods of illegal hunting is now classified as a crime, carrying a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment.

China's government currently classifies 420 species of wild animals as rare or endangered. They are threatened by illegal hunting, damage to the environment and the use of rare animal parts for medicinal reasons..

The animals listed as endangered include giant pandas, golden monkeys, pangolins and Asian black bears.

"Eating rare wild animals is not only bad social conduct but also a main reason why illegal hunting has not been stopped despite repeated crackdowns," Lang Sheng, deputy head of the parliament's legislative affairs commission,.# said.

"In fact, buyers are a major motivator of large-scale illegal hunting," Lang said.

The new interpretation of the law "clears up ambiguities about buyers of prey of illegal hunting", said Xinhua news agency.

Such delicacies are enjoyed by affluent Chinese consumers who are being blamed for fueling the trade of rare wild animals.