China’s thorough ban on illegal wildlife trade timely amid COVID19

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/24 21:23:41 Last Updated: 2020/2/25 2:41:49

A smuggled pangolin is seen inside a cage in Dumai, Riau province, Indonesia on Oct. 25, 2017. Indonesian authorities seized more than 100 critically endangered pangolins during a raid in October, according to an official. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese lawmakers agreed Monday to thoroughly ban the illegal wildlife trade and eliminate bad habits of eating wild animals in China, the decision was hailed as "timely" and demonstrates a "global impact" experts agreed.

The decision will "thoroughly ban illegal wildlife trade and eliminate bad habits of eating wild ani-mals to safeguard people's health and livelihoods."  The decision was made on Monday's bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

The decision expands the legal sphere and establishes a system for the future of "complete prohibi-tion of wild animals." The current Wildlife Protection Law is only limited to national protected an-imals or other wild animals that have no legal source and have not passed quarantine inspection, according to the legislature. 

But comprehensive revision of the wildlife protection law requires a process. The special decision on Monday is to clear and comprehensively prohibit the consumption of wild animals in a timely manner before the relevant laws are amended. This provides strong legislative guarantees to win the war against the epidemic and protect the lives and health of individuals, Chinese lawmakers said. 

Violators of Wildlife Protection Law shall be given harsher punishment and face crackdowns and stricter monitoring, lawmakers said. 

Some illegal wildlife venues are still not prohibited and wildlife markets in some places are preva-lent during the outbreak. Experts reached by the Global Times said the decision helps to crackdown on such illegal behavior and curb disease originating from animals that can be transmitted to human beings.

"It's a big step toward the complete ban on the wildlife trade in China. It expects to help some re-gions to alter their bad habits of eating wild animals and fundamentally change the industry," a re-search fellow from the Beijing Forestry University's College of Nature Conservation Wildlife Insti-tute told the Global Times on the condition of anonymity. 

The research fellow suggested that the government shall release specific lists on what animals are included in the ban and highlight those wild animals that may pose health risks to human beings. 

The ban doesn't include wildlife products and wildlife in medicine use. Wild animals such as pangolin scales are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote lactation and impo-tence. 

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, issues regarding wild animals and its hidden dangers to public health safety have attracted widespread attention. Many believe the coronavirus was trans-mitted from wild animals, such as bats and pangolins, before it spread to humans.  

"Thoroughly banning the illegal wildlife trade will provide an example for neighboring countries, forcing them to change their views on the wild animal industry as a  whole. It will strengthen Chi-na's global ecological and environmental governance, "Sophia Zhang, assistant Secretary General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, told the Global Times. 

Before the nationwide ban on the illegal wildlife trade, many local governments, including northern China's Tianjin Municipality and  southeast China's Guangdong and Fujian Provinces  announced a ban on trading and indiscriminate consumption of wildlife after the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Law on Wild Animal Protection, which was released in 1989 and amended in 2018, prohibits the consumption of protected animals. According to Xinhua News Agency, the law bans hunting and killing key protected animals, as well as selling, buying and using these animals and their prod-ucts.

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