The farmers will be offered the equivalent of $88 per porcupine, $84 per civet cat; $11 per kilogram of bamboo rat, and $17 per kilogram of cobra, king rattle or rat snakes

By Benjamin VanHoose
May 19, 2020 02:01 PM
A vendor sells three peacocks at a wildlife market in Guangzhou, China.
| Credit: LIU JIN/AFP via Getty

China is taking steps to stop the consumption of exotic animal meat.

On Monday, the Humane Society International responded to reports that two provinces in mainland China, Hunan and Jiangxi, will offer a government buy-out to wildlife farmers to stop breeding exotic animals for human consumption.

The move is part of China's crackdown on the exotic meat trade after some experts linked a wet market in Wuhan, China, to potentially triggering the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"By subsidizing wildlife breeders to transition to alternative livelihoods, these provinces are demonstrating global leadership on this issue, which other provinces and countries must now follow," Dr. Peter Li, HSI's China policy specialist, said in a statement, calling the buy-out plan a "model for change."

According to The Independent, farmers will be compensated about $88 per porcupine; $84 per civet cat; $11 per kilogram of bamboo rat; $17 per kilogram of cobra, king rattle or rat snakes; and $345 per wild goose or Chinese muntjac deer.

The farmers will be allowed to breed farm animals like pigs and chickens, or switch to growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

A woman holding bamboo rats in Congjiang County, Guizhou Province, China.
| Credit: Hap/Quirky China News/Shutterstock

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"Chinese farmers," Li said, "not only have an opportunity to leave a trade that poses a direct threat to human health — something that can no longer be tolerated in light of COVID — but also to transition to more humane and sustainable livelihoods such as growing plant foods popular in Chinese cuisine."

The Humane Society International noted that the buy-out does not, however, protect exotic animals bred for their furs, or for medicine and entertainment.

According to HSI, China's overall wildlife trade is worth about $73 billion, $18 billion of which is attributed to meat consumption. Some $55 billion is through its fur industry.

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"While the transition of wildlife farmers to other livelihoods is, of course, a very positive move for both people and animals, a really sad inevitable consequence of that," said Li, "is that a vast number of the wild animals being mass-produced on farms across China will likely be culled or moved to other exploitative industries such as zoos and traditional medicine where animal welfare is typically extremely low and conditions woefully sub-standard."

Li added: "The wild animal breeding farms and factories facing closure and transition must not sacrifice animal welfare in an effort to implement the new changes."

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