The Chinese government has officially imposed a permanent ban on the selling and consumption of illegal wildlife amid the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The announcement of the permanent ban was made by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Monday, according to Shanghaiist. It said that the hunting, trading and transportation of terrestrial wild animals that naturally grow and breed in the wild for the sole purpose of consumption is now “completely prohibited.”
Those caught breaking the law will be “severely punished,” the committee added.
This decision aims to “completely ban the eating of wild animals” while also “cracking down on illegal trade of wildlife,” CNN reported, citing Chinese state media reports.
Wildlife used for medicinal, exhibition or scientific research will have to go through “strict examination and approval” by those in charge in accordance with relevant regulation.
The COVID-19 outbreak was believed to have started in a wet market in Wuhan, a city in Hubei Province, China in December 2019. Weeks after the outbreak began, the Chinese government imposed a temporary ban on the selling and consumption of wildlife in January.
It is still unclear where the virus originated, but scientists believe that it came from bats and was passed down to pangolins before it was brought to humans.
Pangolins are one of the most trafficked mammals in the world as their meat and blood are considered a delicacy in the underground black market, Forbes reported. Meanwhile, their scaly pelts are often legally used in some traditional Chinese medicine.
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