COVID-19 significantly reduced Asian wildlife cravings, new report found

Tourists visit Beijing Wildlife Park

Tourists visit Beijing Wildlife Park

A breeder wearing a face mask raises a one-month-old white tiger cub at the Beijing Wildlife Park in Beijing, China on April 2, 2020.Credit-Zhao-kun via Getty Images / Chugoku Shimbun

About eight years ago, Li Hong began breeding snakes on land in central Hunan, China. 7,000 or so ShudaKnown as the Rat Snake King or the Taiwanese Smelly Snake, he sold about RMB 2 million ($ 220,000) each year. This is well above the 51-year-old who previously earned as an migrant worker struggling in factories and construction sites.

But then COVID-19 pandemic occurs In January 2020, in nearby Wuhan City, we urged the Beijing government to ban the sale of wildlife. Wild animals sell skins to fashion accessory makers and are said to have health benefits. Lee’s livelihood was robbed and he says he was only compensated for RMB 144 ($ 22) per kilogram of destroyed snake.

“Today, market demand is very low and if you want to raise snakes, you need to seek approval from the State Forestry Bureau. This is a lot of problems,” he told TIME. “Currently, only medicated snakes can be approved. Other uses [like eating] Not allowed. “

Lee is not alone. The pandemic catalyzed a total ban on the sale and consumption of wildlife around the world as the general public became more aware of the causes of the outbreak of infectious diseases.Prior to the latest Sunday World Health AssemblyNearly 30% of people surveyed in China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States have reduced wildlife consumption due to the global health crisis, according to a report from the New World Wildlife Fund (WWF). , Or states that it has completely stopped consuming wildlife.

Carter Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer of WWF-US, said: “To prevent the future, we need to repair broken relationships with nature. It begins with ending the trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife and stopping deforestation.”

世界保健機関の調査チームメンバーが、2021年1月31日に中国の武漢で武漢の華南シーフードマーケットを訪問しました。<spanclass ="著作権">Getty Images</ span>“src =” “data-src =”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MC4yMjk0OTIxODc1/https://s.yimg. 1.2 / fCx6yMI.iyioGReHFx1wDA–~B / aD02ODM7dz0xMDI0O2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u / “/><noscript><img alt=Getty Images“src =”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MC4yMjk0OTIxODc1/ -~ B / aD02ODM7dz0xMDI0O2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u /” class=”caas-img”/>

Research team members of the World Health Organization will visit Wuhan’s South China Seafood Market in Wuhan, China on January 31, 2021.Getty Images

Attitudes towards wildlife changing in a pandemic

According to research, COVID-19 may be included in three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases, which are “zoonoses.” Jumped from animal to human.. Wildlife consumption is a major contributor to zoonotic outbreaks and the destruction of natural habitats that bring human and animal populations closer together.Civets, live wolf puppies, and scale armors are common in China Stay cramped and filthyAllows the disease to be cultivated and then spilled into a human population. Ebola, SARS, Nipah virus, and MERS are other examples of human diseases that began in animals.

Wildlife consumption is common in many developing countries, but China’s huge population makes it a major player in this issue. Wildlife farming began in China in the early 1980s with government support. This is partly due to the belief that raising exotic animals helps protect wild populations from hunters, in part as an attempt to alleviate poverty.

According to the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China’s wildlife industry employed 14 million people, with a market value of about $ 76 billion in 2016 and an exotic food sector of $ 19 billion. “The wildlife industry has effectively contributed to the economic development of the region, significantly increasing the economic and local tax revenues of farmers and forestry workers,” said the Academy’s industry report.

But that changed following COVID-19. February 2020, shortly after COVID-19 was first detected in the Wuhan market Known for selling wildlife, The Chinese government has announced a significant ban on wildlife consumption. Recognizing the dangers of eating wildlife across the country, attitudes are changing rapidly.

read more: Wildlife market causes fear with outbreaks of coronavirus

In China, 91% of WWF survey respondents considered the closure of the wildlife market to be the most effective measure to prevent future pandemics. Meanwhile, 28% are currently consuming less or have stopped wildlife consumption, with 41% of respondents in Thailand and 39% in Vietnam showing similar behavioral changes.

Despite growing awareness, the enthusiastic core of wildlife consumers remains, with 9% of respondents hoping to purchase wildlife products in the future in all five countries surveyed by WWF. is. And, while the Chinese government has banned the trading of wildlife, Xi Jinping president continues to promote the traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM,. Contains by-products of exotic animals..

In addition, the study did not include African countries where consumption of “bushmeat” has been an integral part of people’s diet for centuries. “It’s good to ban live animal markets, like China and some countries,” said Elizabeth Marma Murema, acting secretary-general of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Told the UK Guardian newspaper.. “But it’s also important to remember that there are communities that rely on wildlife to sustain the livelihoods of millions of people, especially in low-income rural areas, especially in Africa.”

Lee, a snake farmer, thought his livelihood was guaranteed. But now, the future is uncertain. He says the promised compensation is not enough to cover his feed and labor bill. He is forced to borrow a bank loan and instead grows herbs for TCM due to low start-up costs.

“I have no choice,” Lee shrugs, “but obey national directives.”

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