- Wuhan has banned the eating of wild animals, with officials declaring the city a “wildlife sanctuary.”
- Neighboring Hunan and Jiangxi have announced plans to stop farmers from breeding exotic animals, with cash offered for current stock.
- China’s fur trade will continue, though, and wild animals can still be reared for medicine, entertainment, and scientific research, according to Reuters.
- The new measures are part of China’s efforts to stem the transmission of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans.
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Wuhan, China, has banned the eating of wild animals and farmers in neighboring regions are being offered cash incentives to stop breeding exotic livestock.
Both steps are part of China’s ongoing efforts to stem the transmission of viruses from animals to humans.
On Wednesday, authorities in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in Hubei and the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, announced eating wild animals would be banned, according to CBS News.
Wuhan would become a “wildlife sanctuary,” officials said, with a citywide prohibition on hunting except for “scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances,” according to the Independent.
Before it was shuttered in January, merchants at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market sold and slaughtered beavers, porcupines, and baby crocodiles, National Geographic reported.
Other so-called “wet markets” reopened after the citywide lockdown was lifted, according to ABC News.
Hunan and Jiangxi, which both border Hubei, have also set out plans to change livestock practices.
In Hunan, farmers are being encouraged to breed domestic livestock or grow herbs for tea and medicine. One-off payments will be provided for current exotic stock, according to AFP.
Civets, long-tailed cats believed to have carried Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to humans in the early 2000s, fetch 600 yuan, or about $80, AFP reported. A kilogram of rat snake or cobra is worth about $16.
In Jiangxi, authorities will help farmers dispose of animals and provide financial aid. The province has more than 2,300 licensed breeders of exotic animals, according to state-run paper Jiangxi Daily, generating about $225 million in sales in 2018.
Peter Li, a China specialist for Humane Society International, told AFP he thought Chinese authorities were moving in the right direction. But the current plans still allow exotic animals to be reared for fur, entertainment, and traditional Chinese medicine.
China has been cracking down on the country’s wildlife trade since the pandemic started. COVID-19 is widely theorized to have originated in bats, which could also be a source for SARS and Ebola, according to Reuters.
In February, China’s parliament issued a temporary ban on the trade and consumption of wildlife, Business Insider previously reported. These latest efforts show regions implementing plans in advance of legislation being signed into law.
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