China has banned the trade and consumption of wild animals
The wildlife-farming industry of China is valued at $74 billion and has been recently shut down. On the 24th of February, the nation’s legislature banned the buying, selling, and eating of wild animals(1).
This was done in order to combat and prevent diseases from jumping from animals to people. The new coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of people, is thought to have been transmitted to humans by pigs, civets, or pangolins at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been a growing concern among the Chinese people and thus the consumption of wild animals and its hidden dangers were promptly addressed.
The ban on buying, selling, and even transportation of wild animals started on the 1st of January, 2020
On the first day of January, officials closed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The live-animal trade was banned in all the markets in the city of Wuhan soon thereafter.
A couple of weeks later, authorities temporarily banned the buying, selling, and even transportation of wild animals in markets, restaurants, and online marketplaces across China.
Many expected the ban to stay in place after the epidemic ended, but now it appears to be permanent. Much of China’s wildlife trade was mostly illegal anyway, according to experts(2).
The Wildlife Protection Law of China bans the hunting and selling of endangered species but it doesn’t apply to all wild animals. However, this practice continued due to superficial enforcement and legal loopholes.
Some of these legal loopholes include inconsistencies in the species name and online sales of exotic wildlife as pets. Even before the new ban was instated, the government announced its plans to deal with illegal wildlife markets and trade across the country, partly in response to the virus outbreak(3).
The new ban is still unclear
The list of species protected under the new ban covers some of the already protected species, however, it doesn’t apply to aquatic animals, livestock, or poultry.
The wild-meat industry in China employed around 1 million people. A ban on trading would eventually lead to the criminalization of a substantial proportion of the Chinese population.
This will undoubtedly lead many people to move on to the black market. Reports suggest that over 20.000 farms have been shut down since the outbreak began(4).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.
Many studies suggest that the new coronavirus originated in bats, it passed it on to other animals, and then the virus jumped from animals to people via the wildlife market.
Did you know?
– China is the largest market for illegal wildlife products. The market continued to grow throughout the years but perhaps with this epidemic, it will slow down.
– Many iconic animals such as tigers, bears, and rhinos are farmed en masse in China.
– Some old surveys put into evidence that the Chinese population, around 70% of them, apparently did not know that elephants died for the ivory trade.