Report on CBCGDF’s EPIL Case : The First Case of Online Sales of Earthworm Devices was Hammered
2022/5/10 15:53:00 本站

On May 9, 2022, the International Department of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation(CBCGDF) noticed that a well-known Chinese journal published an article "The first case of online sales of earthworm devices was hammered".


The article translated by the International Department of CBCGDF is as follows:

Although earthworms are not protected animals, the extreme and extinct hunting of such creatures at the key position of the ecological chain must still bear the legal consequences.

Just insert two metal needles into the soil at an interval of 2-5 meters, then a small box with a metal shell starts to operate. The released high-voltage current instantly stimulates organisms in the soil. Earthworms breathing through their skin will rush out of the ground under the dual stimulation of current and sound.


Many e-commerce platforms sell "electric earthworm devices", and the pictures of this colorful metal box are all over the screen. They are simple in structure, generally divided into batteries, circuit boards, and metal ground pins inserted into the soil, and most of them sell for around 200 yuan.

As the "Earth Gut," earthworms influence the structure and function of land-based ecosystems. They burrow into the soil, ingest more than 30 times their weight in soil, accelerate the decomposition of organic matter, and rapidly mix large amounts of litter into the soil layer below, thereby increasing the release of plant nutrients.

There are more than 3,000 species of earthworms known in the world, and there are more than 200 species in China. "I am afraid that there are few animals in the world that have such an important place in world history as the earthworm." In 1881, Darwin wrote his final scientific book——The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms (1881). 

However, in recent years, in China, this kind of annelid has been used as Chinese medicinal materials, food materials, fish bait, etc., and the market demand has greatly increased, and the price has also risen. Some merchants on the e-commerce platform advertised that inverter devices such as "Electric Earthworm Device" can be "used in all terrains, producing earthworms in seconds, and available in all seasons".

In 2016, a media in Hainan printed the words "Save earthworms" on the front page, calling for the conservation of wild earthworms. At that time, the electric trapping of earthworms had already formed a complete industrial chain of capture-acquisition-drying-sinotransport. Prohibition of electric trapping of earthworms has been in a state of "no law to follow" for a long time. According to incomplete statistics, in the Yantang area of Hainan alone, earthworm dealers can purchase several thousand tons of dried earthworms a year.

In 2020, the Legal Department of CBCGDF filed an environment public interest lawsuit (EPIL) against three companies selling electric earthworm devices. The first-instance judgment of the Intermediate Court of Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province held that earthworms are wild animals with an important position in the soil ecosystem, and the means of human economic use of them must be within a reasonable range. The three companies appealed to the High Court of Guangdong Province. On February 17, 2022, the Guangdong Provincial High Court rejected the appeal of the three companies and upheld the first-instance judgment.

Earthworms are a key part of the soil ecosystem. The sticky substance on the earthworm's skin binds the particles together, helping to stabilize the formation of soil aggregates and improve soil structure. Earthworms are also waste decomposers, feeding on plant residues and manure and bringing some organic matter deep into the soil, increasing the storage of soil organic matter. Its manure's total phosphorus, total nitrogen and organic carbon are on average 40%-48% more than soil. According to Chen Nengchang, a researcher at the Institute of Eco-Environment and Soil of the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, healthy earthworm populations can act as nature's "plows" to promote soil health by building channels, cultivating subsoil and mixing it with organic residues.


Uncontrolled hunting of earthworms has brought about visible changes to the soil. Villagers in some areas of Hainan found that the more heavily affected by electric earthworms devices, the higher the degree of soil compaction, and the yield of plants growing on it was also affected. Worm excrement has quick-acting, long-acting, disease-resistant, soil-improving and anti-compacting effects.

Through activities and consumption of microorganisms, bacteria, etc., earthworms play a regulating role in soil ecology, comprehensively improving the entire soil, and are more conducive to the healthy growth of plants such as betel nut and rubber. Using an electric earthworm device to hunt earthworms will not only harm these "earth guts", but also nematodes, springtails, etc. in the soil will be harmed or even killed. They are all components of soil biological indicators that directly affect soil quality and even the crops grown on the soil. Without human intervention in the large-scale use of electric earthworms devices, it will take at least six years for the damaged soil to regain its original vitality.

Original Chinese Article:

Translator: Daisy

Editor: Lucy      

Contact:; +8617319454776



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