Coronavirus A Major Hit To The Wildlife And Farm Animal Industry In China

by Shatakshi Gupta

Coronavirus, which is also now popular as the “COVID – 19”, is not only causing the deaths of individuals around the world but now it is also turning out to be a major hit to the wildlife industry as well as the farm industry.

These fears of coronavirus which are continuously spreading from around more than a month ago are now leaving that very tormenting effect on the poultry industry for all the wrong reasons.

Initially, these coronavirus fears had already adversely effected or rather threatened the fish markets mainly in the month of January, resulting in the very absence of seafood. Followed by the meat industry facing the big set back.

And now the poultry farmers are worried around the world as they are incurring all the heavy losses which are actually the result of the fake news which is being spread across the world about the coronavirus being spread by the chickens. Hence now as this epidemic is aggravating as well as amplifying the meat glut which is actually filled in the cold storage facilities of various countries which includes all of them; pork, chicken, as well as beef, which was meant for exports but now the markets are being hit badly by this coronavirus outbreak.

Apart from that, there are approximately 20,000 wildlife farms which had in them peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, pangolins, ostriches, wild geese and also boars had been shut across China due to these coronavirus panics as well as fearlessness and also these fears had actually released the very hidden size of this industry.

Until a few weeks ago wildlife farming was still being promoted by government agencies as an easy way for rural Chinese people to get rich.

But the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now led to around 2,666 deaths and approximately more than 77,700 known infections, is being believed to have its origin through wildlife, which is being sold at a market in Wuhan since early December, which actually prompted a massive reassessment by the authorities on how the trade must be managed now.

China issued a short term ban on wildlife trade in order to curb the spread of the virus at the end of January and had also begun with a widespread crackdown on breeding facilities in early February.

The country’s topmost legislative officials are also now hurrying towards amending the country’s wildlife protection law and also working in the very direction of restructuring the regulations basically on the use of wildlife for food and traditional Chinese medicine.

The current version of the wildlife port law is being seen as troublesome by wildlife conservation groups as it was actually focusing on the utilization of wildlife rather than its protection.

“The coronavirus epidemic is swiftly pushing China to reevaluate its relationship with wildlife,” Steve Blake, chief representative of WildAid in Beijing, told the Guardian. Apart from being used for Chinese medicine, much of the meat from the wildlife trade is also sold through certain online platforms or to “wet markets” like the one where the COVID-19 outbreak is thought to have started in Wuhan.

Many of the Chinese cities have also already banned the long-distance shipment of live animals due to that fear, from the very spread of the virus. That had also caused turmoil in the standard industry model in which hatcheries provide baby chickens to all those poultry farms, which then further send grown chickens to the market.

According to CnAgri, a China agriculture consultancy, 15 percent of China’s chickens are sent to slaughterhouses while the remainder is sold to restaurants or to markets. The transport restrictions have also left poultry farms with too many live chickens, leading to reports of baby chickens being buried alive.

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It had already been reported that chicken farms of the Hubei province of China that they were slaughtering all their chicks, while the other farms in Guangdong were also fore thinking of beginning with the bury of all the chicks alive in case the shutdown did not improve the situation.

Pets aren’t being spared either

This may have been an unintended consequence of official policy but animal rights activists with the Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue claim that authorities are killing domesticated animals outright amid fears that they can spread the coronavirus.

Officers in the Sichuan Province are allegedly knocking on people’s doors and ordering residents to hand over their pets, while people beg for their companions to be spared, Metro UK reported. The group has accused Chinese authorities of killing the animals within minutes of getting their hands on them.

China may now be clamping down on the wet markets that sell wild animals, something that has been tried on a temporary basis before. The emergence of SARS in 2003 prompted the government to ban the wet markets, but that effort failed and led to a rise in black markets. In the current critical period, China has once again banned wild animal sales, at least until and unless the epidemic is over. But there are also signs of the government that it may actually adopt more strict policies going forward.

China’s very decision of handling the wildlife trade could actually affect the possibility of another outbreak of something like the coronavirus. How the world handles the production and distribution of domesticated animals, however, may be just as resultant of a decision.