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China’s appetite for wildlife meat trade likely to survive Coronavirus: ‘Animals live for man’

Markets selling donkey, dog, bats, crocodile and other meat plan to get back to business as usual. 'In many people’s eyes, animals are living for man, not sharing the earth with man,' said zoologist Wang Song.

FARAH MASTER: ‘For the past two weeks China’s police have been raiding houses, restaurants and makeshift markets across the country, arresting nearly 700 people for breaking the temporary ban on catching, selling or eating wild animals. The scale of the crackdown, which has netted almost 40,000 animals including squirrels, weasels and boars, suggests that China’s taste for eating wildlife and using animal parts for medicinal purposes is not likely to disappear overnight, despite potential links to the new coronavirus.

Traders legally selling donkey, dog, deer, crocodile and other meat told Reuters they plan to get back to business as soon as the markets reopen. Scientists suspect, but have not proven, that the new coronavirus passed to humans from bats via pangolins, a small ant-eating mammal whose scales are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to Wuhan’s seafood market, where bats, snakes, civets and other wildlife were sold. China temporarily shut down all such markets in January, warning that eating wild animals posed a threat to public health and safety.

Many academics, environmentalists and residents in China have joined international conservation groups in calling for a permanent ban on trade in wildlife and closure of the markets where wild animals are sold… That may not be enough to change tastes or attitudes that are deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history… “In many people’s eyes, animals are living for man, not sharing the earth with man,” said Wang Song, a retired researcher of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences…

The breeding and trading of wild animals in China is supported by the government and is a source of profit for many people… Officially sanctioned wildlife farming operations produce about $20 billion in annual revenue, according to a 2016 government-backed report. “The state forestry bureau has long been the main force supporting wildlife use,” said Peter Li, a China Policy Specialist for the Humane Society International. “It insists on China’s right to use wildlife resources for development purposes”.’  SOURCE…

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