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China: The Consumption of Wild Animals Banned

Ellie Chivers investigates the welcoming report that wild animals in China are now out of bounds for human consumption | Science and Sentience

Photo by Theodor Lundqvist

As mentioned in one of our previous articles, it’s hard to imagine anything good coming from this dreadful Coronavirus outbreak. But little beautiful changes have been happening; you may have seen the amazing photos of the Llanduno goats beginning to occupy the streets as humans quarantine indoors, or the fish swimming about the waterways of tourist-scarce Venice.

Perhaps no change, or no movement, has been as shocking and as celebrated as China’s latest decision enforced by Covid-19: a ban on the consumption of wild animals.

Why Now?

This week the number of people confirmed to be infected by deadly the pandemic across the globe has now surpassed 1 million. The virus that has now killed over 6,000 people in the UK alone, is actually supposed to have originated at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.

It has been suggested that either a bat, snake or pangolin transmitted the virus to a human and initiated the pandemic, but this still remains unconfirmed. China now acknowledges that trade and consumption of wild animals in the country needs to end in order to prevent further pandemics like this one from happening.

Easier Said Than Done

In such a strange time, having some good news like this to focus on is very much needed – but the ban will be difficult to roll out. The consumption of wild animals has deep roots in Chinese culture, with it being believed that eating animals such as peacocks and boars will transfer the strength and power of these animals to the consumer.

The country’s wildlife trade is worth over $73 billion. Even though 20,000 wildlife farms across China closed as the virus began to spread, such strong actions from the Chinese authorities – that were ultimately scrapped – are not unheard of: the selling of snakes was banned for a short time in Guangzhou after a SARS outbreak, but it was not enforced for long. This ban is also not the only necessary action that needs to be taken, as the use of wild animals in traditional Chinese medicine is still very much allowed.

A weakening industry

Even though it is the belief of some that the trade is too-far ingrained into the Chinese way of life, there is evidence to suggest that the popularity of wild animal consumption is China was reducing even before the outbreak.

In 2012, a study found that 52% of residents in China’s biggest cities were against the consumption of wild animals. Hopefully the Coronavirus pandemic will be what finally halts this trade once and for all.

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