Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

China Bans Wildlife Markets Temporarily in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Animals
China Bans Wildlife Markets Temporarily in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak
The seafood market in Wuhan, China that has been linked to the spread of the new coronavirus. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP via Getty Images

China banned its trade in wild animals Sunday until the new coronavirus, which was linked to a market in Wuhan where wildlife was sold, is eradicated. Now, conservationists are calling on the country to make the ban permanent.


"Surely it's time for an advanced country like China to reassess the viability of a tiny industry that risks global pandemic, national image, animal cruelty and conservation concerns," WildAid founder Peter Knights told The Washington Post.

The move comes 17 years after severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) killed more than 750 people in China and around the world. That disease is believed to have spread to humans from masked palm civets and was linked to a market in China's Guangdong province. China temporarily cracked down on the wildlife trade in the immediate aftermath, but then allowed it to flourish again.

The new coronavirus has been traced to the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Wholesale market. While the 1,000-stall market, which has been shuttered since Jan. 1, mostly sold seafood, wild animals were also on offer. One vendor, Dazhong Livestock and Game, offered a menu of more than 100 wild animals including ostriches, baby deer, baby crocodiles, wolves and hedgehogs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In the wake of the latest outbreak, which has so far sickened more than 2,700 people and killed at least 80, China also faced rare internal public calls to ban the sale of wild meat.

"If China doesn't take action on this now, I fear this is just going to happen again," Zhou Jinfeng, head of the nongovernmental China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, told The Wall Street Journal.

A group of 19 researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and top universities in the country also called on the government to crack down on the wildlife markets last week, The Independent reported.

Scientists don't yet know exactly how the coronavirus spread to humans, but it is similar to a virus found in bats, and experts think it passed from the bats to another animal, The Wall Street Journal explained. SARS also originally came from bats before passing to civets.

"This is absolutely déjà vu all over again from SARS," EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak told The Wall Street Journal.

The wildlife trade doesn't just harm humans. It also threatens endangered species with extinction, according to The Independent. And China isn't the only country where it takes place.

The Wildlife Conservation Society called for an end to wildlife markets everywhere.

"If these markets persist, and human consumption of illegal and unregulated wildlife persists, then the public will continue to face heightened risks from emerging new viruses, potentially more lethal and the source of future pandemic spread," the executive director of the group's health program Christian Walzer told The Independent. "These are perfect laboratories for creating opportunities for these viruses to emerge."

A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Long-finned pilot whales are seen during a 1998 stranding in Marion Bay in Tasmania, Australia. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A protest in solidarity with the Wetʼsuwetʼen's anti-pipeline struggle, at Canada House in Trafalgar Square on March 1, 2020 in London, England. More than 200 environmental groups had their Facebook accounts suspended days before an online solidarity protest. Ollie Millington / Getty Images

Facebook suspended more than 200 accounts belonging to environmental and Indigenous groups Saturday, casting doubt on the company's stated commitments to addressing the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
The Västra Hamnen neighborhood in Malmö, Sweden, runs on renewable energy. Tomas Ottosson / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Harry Kretchmer

By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.

Read More Show Less
An Extinction Rebellion protester outside the Bank of England on Oct. 14, 2019 in London, England. John Keeble / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch