Shenzhen Is First City in China to Ban Eating Cats and Dogs
The Chinese city of Shenzhen announced Thursday that it would ban the eating of dogs and cats in the wake of the coronavirus, which is believed to have stemmed from the wildlife trade, according to Reuters.
The new ordinance will start on May 1, and makes Shenzhen the first city in China to ban the consumption of animals raised as pets, as CNN reported. The ban builds on a Feb. 1 decree by the country's government that made it illegal to eat wild animals.
"Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan," a spokesperson for the Shenzhen government said, as Newsweek reported. "This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization."
In addition to banning the sale of cats and dogs for food, the new rule, known as the "Shenzhen Special Economic Region Regulation on a Comprehensive Ban on the Consumption of Wild Animals," permanently bans the consumption, breeding and sale of wildlife — such as snakes, lizards and other wild animals — for people to eat in the city, according to Newsweek.
The rule says that animals that can be eaten include pigs, cattle, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons and quails, among others, according to Newsweek.
"If convicted, they will be subjected to a fine of 30 times the wild animal's value, if the animal is above the value of 10,000CNY [$1400 USD]," announced authorities, as CNN announced.
Liu Jianping, an official with the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told the state-owned media Shenzhen Daily that the poultry, livestock and seafood available to consumers was sufficient.
"There is no evidence showing that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock," Liu said, as Reuters reported.
According to the Humane Society International, 30 million dogs are killed each year across Asia for meat. However, eating dog meat in China is actually not that common. The majority of people there say they have never tried it and don't want to, as the BBC reported.
That said, the Humane Society International praised the move and said it may be an auspicious harbinger for the future protection of dogs, cats and wildlife.
"With Shenzhen taking the historic decision to become mainland China's first city to ban dog and cat meat consumption, this really could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and four million cats in China every year," said Dr. Peter Li, China policy specialist for the Humane Society International, as Newsweek reported. "The majority of these companion animals are stolen from people's back yards or snatched from the streets, and are spirited away on the backs of trucks to be beaten to death in slaughterhouses and restaurants across China."
"Shenzhen is China's fifth-largest city so although the dog meat trade is fairly small there compared with the rest of the province, its true significance is that it could inspire a domino effect with other cities following suit. Most people in China don't eat dog or cat meat, and there is considerable opposition to the trade particularly among younger Chinese," he added.
While authorities are trying to bring the lucrative wildlife trade under control after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cultural roots of China's use of wild animals are deeply ingrained. Wild animals are not only used for food, but also for traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments and even pets, according to CNN.
"Shenzhen is the first city in the world to take the lessons learned from this pandemic seriously and make the changes needed to avoid another pandemic," said Teresa M. Telecky, the vice president of the wildlife department for Humane Society International, to Reuters.
"Shenzhen's bold steps to stop this trade and wildlife consumption is a model for governments around the world to emulate."
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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