A new notice was recently published by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration in China: an update of the regulations regarding the breeding of wild animals. By the end of the year, forty-five species will no longer be able to be farmed on Chinese territory, reports the Shanghai-based “Sixth Tone” media.
The species concerned include civets, porcupines, deer, herons, certain species of rabbits, snakes and ducks, or the bamboo rat. The published “leaflet” clearly requires that affected farmers be “actively guided” so that their breeding activities end before the end of December 2020.
This announcement follows a decision by Beijing last February to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice suspected of being at the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which appeared in December in the center of the country. . Some scientists have identified the bat as a “reservoir” animal and the pangolin as an “intermediate host” which has allowed the virus to adapt to humans.
Poor farmers deprived of their activity
According to the new opinion of the Forestry Administration, breeders are still allowed to breed 19 species – such as hedgehogs, badgers and guinea pigs – provided that this breeding is not intended for consumption but for scientific or medicinal use. “A large number of people remain involved in breeding these 64 species, so the regulations needed to be clarified,” an administration official told “Sixth Tone”.
About 14 million people in China – usually in poor rural areas – keep wild animals for a livelihood. The forestry administration had called for this practice to be stopped in May and suggested that residents request compensation for any loss of income.
“The gradual ban process is not yet complete and compensation is lagging behind – farmers’ livelihoods are in ruins,” said the official, interviewed by “Sixth Tone” on condition of anonymity.
Bamboo rat farming, in particular, is an important economic resource for poor farmers in the southern provinces, territories that are teeming with bamboo and sugar cane – the staple foods of these rodents. With an annual output of 2.8 billion yuan, the bamboo rat industry in Guangxi employs 182,000 people, 19% of whom live below the poverty line, according to the China Daily.
This rodent, about the size of a small dog, is a popular delicacy in parts of China. Their meat is sold for more than four times the price of chicken or pork and twice as much as beef.
Insufficient for animal rights associations
For associations for the defense of wild animals, however, the measures taken by Beijing do not go far enough. “The wild animal species that can still be bred outnumber the (64) species listed,” said a spokesperson for the Anti-Bracing Crime Squad.
“And wild animals supposedly bred for purposes other than food can be secretly sent to restaurants without proper supervision,” he worries. According to him, it will be difficult for the authorities to supervise all the breeding sites due to the lack of resources and awareness of the police.