HONG KONG: In the aftermath of the deadly coronavirus outbreak which is believed to have begun in a wildlife market in Wuhan, a strict ban on eating and farming of wild animals is being enforced across China.
Although it is unknown which animal has transmitted the virus to humans – bat, snake and pangolin have been proposed – China has recognized that it needs to monitor its lucrative wildlife industry if it is to avoid another outbreak.
It imposed a temporary ban in late February on all cultivation and consumption of “terrestrial wildlife of substantial ecological, scientific and social interest,” scheduled to be signed into law later this year.
As observed by CNN, passing the law will make efforts to terminate the trade difficult. The cultural origins of the use of wild animals by China run deep, the author notes, not only for food but also for traditional medicine, clothes, ornaments and even livestock.
This is not the first time Chinese officials have attempted to curtail the trade.
Civets – animals of a mongoose-type of breed – were outlawed and culled in large numbers in 2003 after it was discovered that they were likely to transmit the SARS virus to humans. Since the SARS outbreak, selling of snakes was also briefly prohibited in Guangzhou.
Yet, dishes that use the animals are still being eaten in parts of China today.
Public health experts say the ban is a significant step, however, they are urging Beijing to take advantage of this critical opportunity to close loophole – mainly the use of wild animals in traditional Chinese medicine – and start shifting cultural attitudes about wildlife consumption in China.