Wuhan Bans Sale and Consumption of Wild Animals

A man wearing a face mask buys roasted duck in a market in Wuhan | AFP

Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus, has become the latest Chinese city to ban the eating of wild animals.

Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei, thus follows step of other regions in China that adopted similar measures, also aimed at conserving wildlife and avoiding indiscriminate hunting.

Dr. Peter Li, Humane Society International's (HSI) China policy specialist, said that by subsidizing wildlife breeders to transition to alternative livelihoods, these provinces are "demonstrating global leadership on this issue".

"It is prohibited to artificially breed terrestrial wild animals and rare and endangered aquatic wild animals under national key protection for the objective of eating", the notice says.

According to The Independent, in February, China suspended all trade and consumption of wildlife with a temporary law, but it did not specify if farm-raised ones would be covered. The move comes a day after news that authorities in the province of Hunan and Jiangxi are offering money to Chinese farmers to stop breeding exotic animals for meat.

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Further, Wuhan also banned all hunting of wild animals within its limits, declaring Wuhan "a wildlife sanctuary", with the exception of government-sanctioned hunting for "scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances".

The recently released plans are for two mainland provinces - Hunan and Jiangxi.

New restrictions were also introduced by the city regarding the breeding of wild animals.

A civet cat - the animal believed to have carried Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to humans in another coronavirus outbreak almost two decades ago - would fetch 600 yuan.

But since then, a number of reports have said wildlife is still being sold in markets in China and elsewhere. Past outbreaks, including the 2004 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic, have also been attributed to the live animal markets. Hunan and Jiangxi provinces border Hubei province. This is the first time that such a national plan has been pledged by the Chinese authorities in an attempt to curb exotic animal breeding.

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