Enough is enough. That is the mindset of people around the world when it comes to wildlife trade.
The current global pandemic has put a spotlight on the dangers of wildlife trade at Chinese wet markets, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated. In response, Chinese officials are offering farmers cash to stop breeding wild animals for trade and consumption.
Wildlife trade is a multi-billion dollar industry in China, but one that needs to come to an end for everyone’s safety. On February 24, China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, announced a ban on consuming wild animals and crackdown on illegal wildlife trade. The ban on eating wild animals went into effect immediately.
Two Chinese provinces, Hunan and Jiangxi, are hoping to end wildlife trade by encouraging farmers through cash payouts to raise other livestock, crops for tea, or traditional medicine. Both provinces have seen an increase in exotic animal farmers in the past decade, but are taking actions to end it.
Hunan announced that they would offer cash payout to licensed farmers to end breeding of wildlife for trade and food. Over 14 wild animal species offer a cash payout to farmers. “For example, a bamboo rat will pay 75 yuan per kilogram, a porcupine will pay 630 yuan per head, a civet cat will pay 600 yuan, and a small deer will pay 2457 yuan per head,” reports China News.
Jiangxi, which has over 2300 licensed wild animal breeders, also announced they will be offering compensation to help farmers transition to another form of farming. Most of the current wild animal farms in the province are breeding wild animals for consumption.
“This issue is not just a conservation issue anymore,” Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told NY Times. “It’s a public health issue, a biosafety issue and a national security issue.”
It is estimated that millions of animals of various species are trafficked each day. Christian Walzer, executive director of health at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in reference to wet markets and wildlife trade, “For getting new viruses to emerge, you couldn’t do it much better even if you tried.”
Aside from the potential risk to humans, the wildlife trade claims the lives of billions of animals every year – including threatened and endangered species. It is time to close all live animal markets for good. Sign the petition below to urge China to immediately ban all wildlife trade.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.