Wuhan bans eating wild animals in wake of coronavirus pandemic

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

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

Wuhan, the city that had been the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic has banned citizens from eating the meat of wild animals for five years.

Wuhan's local administration announced Wednesday that it has officially banned the eating of wild animals.

Local authorities of Wuhan, a city with 11 million inhabitants, chose to ban not only the eating of all wild animals but also their hunting, declaring the territory a wildlife sanctuary.

The emergence of a new China?

"Wuhan becomes the fourth city in mainland China to show such leadership, but we now need cities and countries across the world to step up to the plate and shut down the unsafe wildlife trade".

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

This is not the first time such measures have been undertaken.

On Feb. 24, 2020 the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress banned wild animal consumption for food.

In a statement, it said when the first report of three cases of pneumonia of unknown causes was made on December 27, 2019 by Dr Zhang Jixian of the critical care department of the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, the country responded promptly using laid down procedure.

Two central provinces in China have already outlined details of the buy out programme to help breeders transition to alternative livelihoods.

Local authorities have also launched compensation programs to encourage wild animal breeders to switch to growing plants, fruit, vegetables, or herbs for traditional Chinese medicine.

Zoonotic diseases like coronavirus can easily spread from animals to humans at wet markets.

China has reported over 82,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 4,600 deaths, while the global death toll has surpassed 326,000 and the infections have crossed 4.9 million.

Hunan and Jiangxi, which both border Hubei, have also set out plans to change livestock practices.

But he cautioned that Hunan's proposals leave room for farmers to continue breeding exotic creatures as long as the animals are not sent to food markets.

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