Wuhan Bans Eating Wild Animals, Pays to Stop Breeding of Exotic Animals

Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, has officially banned the eating of wild animals and will pay subsidies to local breeders to cease breeding of exotic animals, amid mounting worldwide pressure.

Crackdown on wildlife trade

Administrators for the city of Wuhan, which is home to about 11 million people in the central Hubei province of China, have officially banned the eating of all wild animals.

The city has declared Wuhan “a wildlife sanctuary.” Only official government-sanctioned hunting for “scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances” will be permitted, CBS reported.

China had already banned the sale of wild animals for food in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the existing trade of selling animals for research and traditional medicine remains legal.

Chinese provinces to control breeding, pay subsidies to breeders

The breeding of exotic animals in China is big business. The Humane Society International (HSI) estimates that revenues in China’s Hunan and Jiangxi alone netted roughly $1.4 billion in 2018.

Strict new controls on the breeding of wild animals have been imposed in Wuhan. In addition, Chinese authorities will pay breeders in order to curb breeding, especially that of exotic animals.

Authorities plan to evaluate inventories of breeding farms and offer payments of $16 per kilogram for bamboo rats, rat snake, King rat snake, and cobras, CBS reported. The price for a civet cat, one of the mammals believed to be responsible for transmitting SARS, will be roughly $84.

The neighboring province of Jiangxi has also announced plans to use financial aid to stop the breeding of wild animals. A state-run newspaper announced last week that there were over 2300 license breeders in the province who were rearing wild animals mostly to be used for food.

The article estimated that it would cost roughly $225 million to buy out the animal inventories of the breeders.

Dogs cannot be bred for food

Another result of the coronavirus pandemic was that in early April, China created new guidelines for which types of animals could be bred for eating. One result of this was ending the breeding of dogs for food.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced that dogs would no longer be considered livestock and could not be bred for a variety of purposes, including; food, milk, fur, fiber, medicine, or for military or sports purposes, CBS reported.

Wildlife has been repeated origin of disease jumping to humans

While the origins of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has caused a worldwide disease pandemic remains unclear, one believed potential source has been the so-called wet markets in Wuhan, China.

A variety of wild, unregulated animals are sold at these markets as food. Many have blamed this illegal wildlife trade for not only the current pandemic, but for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which first appeared in 2002.

In 2017, Chinese scientists traced the SARS virus to a civet cat, as well as horseshoe bats.