Wuhan bans eating wild animals as virus drives a crackdown in China

Katie Ramirez
May 22, 2020

Wildlife in China is still being used for making alternate medicines and research and experts have said that only a complete ban on wildlife trade can prevent another virus outbreak.

Local officials in Wuhan, located in Hubei province, announced on Wednesday that the eating of all wild animals is officially banned, CBS News reports.

On Feb. 24, 2020 the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress banned wild animal consumption for food. The COVID-19 virus first appeared in Wuhan late previous year and many linked its initial transmission to wild animal consumption, namely bats.

The deadly coronavirus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and is believed to have been passed from bats to people before spreading worldwide.

There are now almost five million confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world.

Following a months-long lockdown to limit the spread of the virus, Wuhan merchants began reopening their wet market stalls last month.

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Though it hasn't been confirmed, one of the suspected sources of the virus is the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which had a live animal section reportedly selling everything from live wolf pups to scorpions. As pressure piles on China to end illegal wildlife trade that was the cause of the coronavirus outbreak, authorities have for the first time pledged to buy out breeders in an attempt to curb the practice, animal rights activists say.

The province's plan also does not include many wild animals bred for fur, traditional Chinese medicine or entertainment.

Wet markets are common across Asia and Africa and sell produce like fruit and vegetables, as well as meat.

"As part of the buy-out plans in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, the fate of the wildlife stock is also a welfare issue of concern", said HSI. In addition to providing affordable food to local communities, wet markets also provide a livelihood for locals.

A number of celebrities, including Courteney Cox, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ricky Gervais, have also called for a ban on the wildlife trade and the consumption of wild animals.

Wuhan, the city in China where the first cases of the novel coronavirus were reported late previous year, has banned the eating of wild animals and is paying farmers to stop breeding exotic animals. But wildlife consumption is not the biggest industry in the country.

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