Impacts of COVID-19 on Wildlife Management Policies in China

The COVID-19 outbreak reinforces the need for a transformation in our economic and regulatory policies. As countries around the world try to fight the disease, we have realized the need to step towards a less consumptive model.

It was found that reasons for the COVID-19 pandemic were interconnected with an accelerated ecosystem degradation and poor wildlife management policies. China has come under the lens of nations around the world who blame the country for weak policies that regulated the wildlife markets. But its implementation of strong policies and proper regulations helped the country overcome the pandemic. But many other countries continue to fight it.

What are the new Wildlife Management Policies of China?

The Wildlife Protection Law in China determines about the protection of different species. It also states the requirements for animal breeding and mechanisms used for animal breeding in the country.  This law allows the trade of even protected species for specific purposes. Requirements to legally trade in these protected species may involve special permits. Or just a proof of origin of the animal being traded. The requirements usually depend on the category of protection for the specimens being traded.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, China has quickly increased the strictness of existing policies. Additionally, the country also introduced new notifications and decisions regarding wildlife trade. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has announced that breeding and trade of most terrestrial wildlife species for food will be forbidden. WWF has made some recommendations to the NPC for enforcing a strict Wildlife Protection Law. This can further improve the trade and breeding of animals in China.

How would Wildlife Management Policies affect wet markets in China?

Wet markets are markets where traders sell live animals for the purpose of consumption. While we may see it as a small sector, China’s wildlife breeding industry is worth 520 million RMB. This is the equal of approximately 70 billion euros.

As a result, regulating the market or bringing an end to wet markets can, directly and indirectly, impact the livelihoods of several people. At the same time, it will impact the economy too. Any changes in the Wildlife Management Policies must undergo deep scrutiny on their impacts before implementing the same.

Now China has forbidden the breeding and trade of several terrestrial wildlife species. So, it is important for the country to identify alternative means of livelihood for people impacted by these new regulations. Without proper transitioning, people may eventually move to breeding and trading the animals illegally. As a result, the country may risk the creation of black markets.

In addition to addressing the challenges created by the new regulations which impact several communities, the government also has to identify means of implementing existing laws. The government, along with NGOs must raise awareness about wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases. This will support a reduction in the demand of wildlife products. And thus it will reduce the need for wet markets.

The Chinese traditional medicine market also involves extensive use of wildlife products. Many expert medical researchers have tried to emphasize that Chinese medicines mostly do not use wildlife products. Medicines that include wildlife products have substitutes which medicine makers can use to avoid endangering wildlife or encouraging wet markets.

What we are doing now at Animal Club

At Animal Club, we have been following news on COVID-19 and how it is changing animal-human interactions. All our animal workshops have regularly emphasized on the importance of wildlife conservation. If we educate the children about the importance of safeguarding our biodiversity through animal handling workshops and animal parties, they are more likely to be more sensitive towards animals as they grow up. By spreading awareness among children through animal school visits and even an animal party, we hope to slowly make way for a world where wildlife conservation is practiced without being enforced by law.

We offer mobile zoo which is great for events like birthday parties. You don’t have to take the hassle of group traveling and let the kids at the party having an exotic animal experience at the same time.