In the wake of Coronavirus and its deadly impact on humans across the world, China has finally issued a temporary ban on wildlife trade – a move that animal welfare experts have been calling on for decades.
Coronavirus is thought to have originated from a market in Wuhan, China, where wildlife was being sold. Wuhan is the epicentre of the virus, where thousands of people are now being quarantined.
Since December 2019, more than 1,800 people have died from the virus and more than 72,000 have been diagnosed with the infection. It took this virus for Chinese authorities to finally rethink their trade of wildlife after centuries of mercilessly slaughtering them. The Chinese and other Asian nations believe parts of certain animals have medicinal properties, and it turns out it was the complete opposite.
Earlier this month, China began a crackdown on breeding facilities and hundreds were shut down. Nearly 20,000 wildlife species including peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, wild geese and boar were found being farmed. Chinese decision makers are now planning to review and restructure their wildlife protection laws as a result of Coronavirus.
David Barritt, executive director of animal welfare organization, Network for Animals (NFA), welcomed the move, saying he hoped it would be the beginning of a complete rethink by China about its animal welfare policies.
“We and others have warned for years that not only is China’s attitude towards animals inherently cruel, it is dangerous and sadly the Coronavirus has proved us right,” he said.
Barritt also expressed concern about the fate of thousands of animals on farms that have been shut down. “China hasn’t said what it will do about the animals, but it would be horrifying if these wild creatures were put down.
“If China is serious about moving into the modern era, it is important for the authorities to remember that animals are sentient creatures who know fear and feel pain and plan with compassion in their hearts.”