CHINA WILDLIFE CONSUMPTION BAN

WILDLIFE ANIMAL PROTECTION FORUM SOUTH AFRICA SUBMISSION TO THE CHINESE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS

IN RESPONSE TO THE CHINESE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS OFFER OF PUBLIC CONSULTATION WITH REGARD TO THE NATIONAL CATALOGUE OF ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES

7TH MAY 2020

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE CAPTIVE BREEDING OF WILD ANIMALS IN CHINA

The captive breeding of wild animals and the use of their products for food, clothing and medicine has played an important role in the Chinese culture.

China has shut down domestic wild animal traders on fears that their goods sparked the coronavirus pandemic. China’s National People’s Congress imposed a ban on the sale and consumption of wild animals in the country on the 24th February 2020.

Captive wildlife industries in China have experienced unprecedented growth in recent decades. The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa, in their invited submission to the Chinese government, has chosen to focus on four such industries:

The Chinese fur industry is the largest in the world. According to International the Fur Federation data, Chinese retail sales of fur are worth nearly US $17 billion per year. The image below shows workers skinning minks at a farm in China. In addition to being a major exporter of mink pelts and garments, China also imports a large number from Europe and North America. Image Credit National Geographic

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IS SOUTH AFRICA’S LION BONE TRADE CREATING HEALTH RISKS FOR WORKERS AND CONSUMERS COVID_19?

Claws, teeth and paws: a clandestine industry reduces wild lions to mere objects and creates health risks for workers and consumers

AUTHOR Ross Harvey (PhD, Economics)

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, likely attributable to the consumption of pangolin meat at a ‘wet’ wildlife meat market in Wuhan, China, the Chinese state has imposed a ban on the sale of wildlife and wildlife products. Even though this move is motivated by a desire to mitigate contagion risk, it is in keeping with China’s desire to portray itself as an ‘ecological civilisation’. An ecologically minded civilisation does not promote the domestication of wildlife to be farmed as mere consumables. South Africa could learn a lesson here.

As Don Pinnock writes, the Chinese ban – implemented on 24 February 2020 – sounds an overdue death knell for South Africa’s lion bone industry, not least because of the extensive health risks of exporting lion bones to Asia. Workers in the industry are at risk of contracting bovine TB, giving the lie to the idea that the captive lion industry provides quality jobs to poor rural South Africans. Consumers are similarly at risk of contracting deadly diseases through drinking lion bone wine or lion bone cakes and so forth. Given these risks, detailed in a letter penned by the EMS Foundation to Minister Barbara Creecy, it is high time that the South African state terminated its captive lion breeding industry, as urged by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as far back as 2016. 

Why exactly does the South African government continue to support the industry and what myths do its proponents sell to maintain the breeding, hunting and skinning of captive lions? And why should they stop it immediately? 

Panthera leo (the African lion) is in trouble. Over the last 21 years we have lost 43% of our populations. It is likely that fewer than 32,000 are left in the wild, with some scientists favouring the lower-bound estimate of 23,000. Prey base depletion and associated habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary threats, along with bushmeat hunting, retaliatory killing for livestock predation and excessive trophy hunting. 

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