China legislators take on wildlife trade, but traditional medicine likely to be exempt
23 May, 2020, 00:40
The ban includes consumption of any wildlife and aquatic wild animals that are on preservation lists, as well as those bred in captivity, according to the Wuhan government's official website.
Further, Wuhan also banned all hunting of wild animals within its limits, declaring Wuhan "a wildlife sanctuary", with the exception of government-sanctioned hunting for "scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances".
China has been cracking down on the country's wildlife trade since the pandemic started.
"There is nothing to stop farmers continuing business as usual but pivoting to selling their farmed wild animals for traditional Chinese medicine instead", he said.
"It will be important for TCM experts, wildlife conservation experts, and relevant authorities to take a look at TCM-related laws and regulations to make sure they are consistent", said Aili Kang, executive director of the Asia Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
This is not the first time such measures have been undertaken.
But some products associated with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) remain for sale, reflecting legal ambiguities and a strong demand for folk remedies.
Two central provinces in China have already outlined details of the buy out programme to help breeders transition to alternative livelihoods.
Wuhan is located in Hubei province, very close to Hunan and Jangxi, where regional governments are offering to compensate wildlife breeders to switch to plant-based farming. A kilogram of rat snake or cobra is worth about $16 (R282).
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According to the publication, neighbouring Jiangxi province also announced a strategy to support the farmers in disposing of animals and simultaneously provide them with financial aid.
Hunan and Jiangxi, which both border Hubei, have also set out plans to change livestock practices. However, 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.