BUT ENDING THE TRADE WON'T BE EASY
FOR THE FOLLOWING THREE REASONS
1 The industry for exotic animals in China, especially wild ones, is enormous. A government-sponsored report in 2017 by the Chinese Academy of Engineering found the country's wildlife trade was worth more than $73 billion and employed more than one million people.
2 Traditional medicine loophole. A significant barrier to a total ban on the wildlife trade is the use of exotic animals in traditional Chinese medicine. Worth an estimated $130 billion.
A few examples of the cruelty involved in the illegal trade in wildlife in China.
On a farm near Beijing last September, a group of conservationists found about 10.000 live birds being stored in a barn, the birds had broken wings and crippled legs caused by the nets and traps used to illegally snare them. The birds were being "boxed up" ready to be sent to restaurants and markets in southern China. As if this was not bad enough. Among them were yellow-breasted buntings, critically endangered songbirds whose numbers have been decimated, largely because people in parts of China want to eat them.
Tiger Bone Wine
It is estimated that between 5000 and 6000 tigers are farmed in China. The tiger bones are stewed and mixed with alcohol to make Tiger bone wine, their meat will be sold, and their skin turned into carpets for the Chinese ‘elite’.
This wine is believed to be an aphrodisiac bought by Newly-wealthy Chinese customers who cling to the traditional belief that tiger bone wine peps up their sex life and will pay £400 a bottle for it
Worryingly rich Chinese will pay double that for wine made from wild tiger bones. Only about 3000 individual tigers are left in the wild!
Meanwhile the legally farmed tigers are starved, kept in terrible conditions in rusty filthy cages that are too small for them, are malnourished and beaten. Once the tigers have died as a result of these mistreatment, their bones are turned into Tiger wine.
The secretly filmed evidence from the investigation was taken to Geneva where it is presented to international decision-makers at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to act on. Dissapointingly they did not act on it.
Watch the secret filming here on the BBC
Revenge of the Pangolin
“We can’t be indifferent anymore!” President Xi Jinping of China fumed at top officials early last month, referring to the public health risks of eating wildlife.
On Feb. 24, the 13th National People’s Congress issued a decision “Comprehensively Prohibiting the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Eliminating the Bad Habits of Wild Animal Consumption and Protecting the Health and Safety of the People.” This and an earlier ban on wildlife markets were direct responses to concerns that the new coronavirus, which is thought to have originated in bats, may have been transmitted to humans via a wild animal for sale at a wet market in Wuhan, a city in central China.
Genetic analyses have come up short of pinpointing the culprit so far, but among the prime suspects is the pangolin, a long-snouted, scaly, ant-eating mammal virtually unknown in the West but widely prized in China as a delicacy and for its purported medicinal virtues.
So now, on suspicion that it might have infected humans with Covid-19, the pangolin will finally be spared and protected. Or will it?
China has had wildlife trading bans on the books for three decades, but those haven’t prevented pangolins from becoming the most trafficked mammal in the world.
The shy, harmless pangolin is becoming increasingly well known for one reason: It’s believed to be the world’s most trafficked non-human mammal. Tens of thousands of pangolins are poached every year, killed for their scales for use in traditional Chinese medicine and for their meat, a delicacy among some ultra-wealthy in China
A law banning the farming and eating of wild animals is being introduced by China's regime in the wake of the deadly coronavirus epidemic, which started at a wildlife market in Wuhan.
China has finally accepted it needs to bring its lucrative wildlife industry under control if it is to prevent another outbreak and regain the trust of the Chinese people and the wider world.
But ending the trade will be hard. The cultural roots of China's use of wild animals run deep, not just for food but also for traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments and even pets.
Chinese officials have promised the world this before In 2003, after it was discovered eating illegally imported wild animals transferred the SARS virus to humans. But today dishes using the animals are still eaten in China.
World Public health experts say the ban is an important first step, but are calling on the regime to make sure it is enforced this time and to close loopholes, such using wild animals in traditional Chinese medicine, like stewed Tiger bones to make Tiger wine and begin to change cultural attitudes in China around eating wild animals.
Chinese Markets with live and dead animals for sale.
The Wuhan seafood market at the center of the coronavirus outbreak was selling a lot more than seafood. Snakes, raccoon dogs, porcupines, deer and pangolins were just some of the species crammed tightly inside filthy rusty cages stacked one on top off the other. up to four cages high, side by side with shoppers and sellers. Some animals were filmed being slaughtered in the market in front of customers. The footage, which was posted to Weibo by a concerned citizen has since been deleted by government censors. Imagine the stink and poor animals terrified and covered in waste from the cages above.
It is somewhere in this mass of wildlife that the coronavirus first spread to humans. The disease has now infected thousands of people and is killing more and more people every day around the world. The Chinese government are claiming some-kind of success because rates are slowing in Wuhan, what about the rest of the world.
The Wuhan market was not unusual. Across mainland China, hundreds of similar markets offer a wide range of exotic animals for a range of purposes.
The danger of an outbreak comes when many exotic animals from different environments are kept in close proximity.
"These animals have their own viruses," said Hong Kong University virologist professor Leo Poon. "These viruses can jump from one species to another species, then that species may become an amplifier, which increases the amount of virus in the wet market substantially."
When a large number of people visit markets selling these animals each day, Poon said the risk of the virus jumping to humans rises sharply.
Poon was one of the first scientists to decode the SARS coronavirus during the epidemic in 2003. It was linked to civet cats kept for food in a Guangzhou market, but Poon said researchers still wonder whether SARS was transmitted to the cats from another species.
"(Farmed civet cats) didn't have the virus, suggesting they acquired it in the markets from another animal," he said.
The Cultural problem
Annie Huang, (uses a pseudonym when speaking about the newly-illegal trade because of her views on eating wild animals.) a 24-year-old college student from southern Guangxi province, said she and her family regularly visit restaurants that serve wild animals.
She said eating wildlife, is considered good for your health, because diners also absorb the animals' physical strength and resilience and Exotic animals are an important status symbol. "Wild animals are expensive so if you treat somebody with wild animal, it will be considered that you're paying tribute," she said.
She said she doubted the ban would be effective in the long run. "The trade might lay low for a few months ... but after a while, probably in a few months, people would very possibly come back again," she said.
The Regime hasn't released a full list of the wild animals included in the ban, but the current Wildlife Protection Law gives some clues as to what could be banned. That law classifies wolves, civet cats and partridges as wildlife, and states that authorities "should take measures" to protect them, with little information on specific restrictions.
The new ban makes exemptions for "livestock," and in the wake of the ruling many animals are being reclassified as livestock to allow their trade to continue.
There are signs however that China's population may have already been turning away from eating wild animals.
A study by Beijing Normal University and the China Wildlife Conservation Association in 2012, found that in China's major cities, a third of people had used wild animals in their lifetime for food, medicine or clothing -- only slightly less than in their previous survey in 2004.
However, the researchers also found that just over 52% of total respondents agreed that wildlife should not be consumed. It was even higher in Beijing, where more than 80% of residents were opposed to wildlife consumption. In comparison, about 42% of total respondents were against the practice during the previous survey in 2004.
Since the coronavirus epidemic, there has been vocal criticism of the trade in exotic animals and calls for a crackdown. A group of 19 academics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and leading universities even jointly issued a public statement calling for an end to the trade, saying it should be treated as a "public safety issue."
I think the World should listen to those Chinese that are calling for change and now like the folk in Hongkong support and encourage them. More about how later.
Traditional medicine loophole
A significant barrier to a total ban on the wildlife trapping, smuggling and factory farming of exotic animals is there use in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Governing regime under President Xi Jinping has been strongly promoting the use of traditional Chinese medicine and the industry is now worth an estimated $130 billion.
As recently as October 2019, state-run media China Daily reported Xi as saying that "traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization embodying the wisdom of the nation and its people."
So here's the loophole, Many species that are eaten as food in parts of China are also used in the country's traditional medicine.
The new ban makes an exception for wild animals used in traditional Chinese medicine. According to the ruling, the use of wildlife is not illegal for this, but now must be "strictly monitored." The announcement doesn't make it clear, however, how this monitoring will occur or what the penalties are for inadequate protection of wild animals, leaving the door open to abuse.
A 2014 study by the Beijing Normal University and the China Wildlife Conservation Association found that while deer is eaten as a meat, the animal's penis and blood are also used in medicine. Both bears, tigers and snakes are used for both food and medicine.
Wildlife campaigner Aron White said that under the new restrictions there was a risk of wildlife being sold or bred for medicine, but then trafficked for food. He said the Chinese government needed to avoid loopholes by extending the ban to all vulnerable wildlife, regardless of use.
"(Currently), the law bans the eating of Pangolins but doesn't ban the use of their scales in traditional Chinese medicine. The impact of that is that overall the Chinese are receiving mixed messages." You are banned from eating Pangolins but can trap, import, kill and skin them, but just don't eat them"
The line between which animals are used for meat and which are used for medicine is also already very fine, because often people eat animals for perceived health benefits.
In a study published in International Health in February, US and Chinese researchers surveyed attitudes among rural citizens in China's southern provinces to eating wild animals.
The industry for exotic animals in China, especially wild ones, is enormous.
The final effectiveness of the ban may depend on the government's willpower to enforce the law. "Culture cannot be changed overnight, it takes time," But the rest of the world and our critically endangered wildlife does not have that time. We have to put pressure on President Xi Jinping and his regime. more about how here