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Why Coronavirus Could Help Save China’s Endangered Species

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: This picture taken on September 28, 2018 and acquired from the Vietnam Information Company exhibits Vietnamese customs officers checking pangolin scales seized in Hanoi. Vietnam seized round a ton of pangolin scales and ivory hidden inside airline cargo packages, state media reported, because the nation struggles to rein in unlawful wildlife smuggling over its borders. PHOTO: Vietnam Information Company / AFP


The coronavirus outbreak in China could find yourself saving one of many world’s most trafficked animals after Beijing introduced a complete ban on the sale and consumption of the pangolin.

The scaly mammal — listed by the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) as threatened with extinction — is a standard delicacy throughout China and far of southeast Asia.

Following analysis linking the critters with the transmission of coronavirus to people within the outbreak epicentre of Wuhan, Chinese language officers on Monday slapped a ban on consuming wild animals.

(FILES) On this file picture taken on June 30, 2017, a juvenile Sunda pangolin feeds on termites on the Singapore Zoo. – The endangered pangolin stands out as the hyperlink that facilitated the unfold of the novel coronavirus throughout China, Chinese language scientists stated on February 7, 2020.(Photograph by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


The measures, meant to halt the unfold of the virus that has contaminated over 80,000 individuals worldwide and killed greater than 2,700, may find yourself serving to numerous endangered species — however provided that the ban holds long run.

“I applaud the ban, as we see that the Chinese government is determined to change a thousands-year-old tradition which is so inappropriate in today’s society,” stated Jeff He, China director on the Worldwide Fund for Animal Welfare.

“I think the ban is an important Step One for wildlife conservation in China.”

He referred to as for “stronger and more progressive revisions” of China’s current wildlife safety legal guidelines.

Beijing applied comparable measures following the SARS outbreak within the early 2000s, however the commerce and consumption of untamed animals, together with bats and snakes, made a comeback.

“I do think the government has seen the toll it takes on national economy and society is much bigger than the benefit that wild-eating business brings,” stated He.

Most-trafficked mammal

The pangolin, essentially the most trafficked mammal on Earth, is prized for its meat and its distinctive scales, that are stated to have medicinal properties.

Peter Knights, CEO of the WildAid charity, stated that whereas China’s ban was welcome, a worldwide effort was required to finish the drastic decline on the earth’s pangolin populations.

“The only question is what will happen in the longer run,” he stated. “We hope that China can lead the world in banning these markets globally.”

The coronavirus outbreak ought to function a “warning” for people to hunt to preserve extra of nature, or face well being and monetary backlashes, Knights stated.

“If we heed the warning not only will we protect human life but we could actually save species like pangolins,” he added.

The worldwide sale of pangolins was outlawed in 2016 below the CITES conference towards species exploitation.

CITES secretary-general Ivonne Higuero welcomed China’s transfer to ban the home commerce however harassed that the animals have been removed from out of the woods.

The unlawful trafficking of untamed species is estimated by the WWF to be value round $15 billion yearly, significantly amongst booming Asian markets.

“What we’ve seen is that there is a lot of illegal wildlife trade going on with China as a destination country,” stated Higuero.

She stated a ban on pangolin consumption in China may considerably dent worldwide trafficking by eradicating the monetary incentives that drive prison gangs to smuggle the creatures en masse.

Whereas the ban has been welcomed by the conservation communities, there are fears that people may come guilty pangolins for the outbreak, and search revenge.

“People could become more wary of pangolins and therefore become more sensitive to their consumption and use,” stated Ray Jansen, Chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group and member of the ICUN.

“But on the other side of the sword, they could also start viewing pangolins as a threat, which would put them in danger. We are not quite sure how the public will take it.”

For Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Basis Africa, the answer is easy.

“If we do not eat wildlife they will not harm us,” he stated.


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