Coronavirus crisis reveals dangers of bushmeat
The source of the new coronavirus, which has caused the ongoing plague of pneumonia spreading from Wuhan, has been confirmed: Bushmeat.
According to Gao Fu, a member of the National Health Commission expert group, the virus was found both in the bodies of infected patients, and on vendors that sold bushmeat in the market where the first infections were found.
To quote a popular saying online, "it is some people's greed for bushmeat that led to the release of the demon". Paraphrased, the whole of humankind has been paying a price for the greed of a few.
That, in turn, aroused fierce vituperations against the illegal bushmeat supply. On Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, the hashtag #SayNoToBushmeat has been read over 860 million times. Yet in terms of the law, selling, purchasing and eating bushmeat is not so strictly prohibited. According to the Law on Wild Animal Protection, it is prohibited to sell or buy food made from protected animals, or food made from non-protected animals without any legal proof of their sources.
That leaves a loophole: Businesses can get legal certificates to sell the meat of animals not on the protected list, which is no less dangerous than the meat of protected creatures. The law allows people to raise and breed wild animals, but some illegal businesses sell these animals to restaurants while obtaining legal certificates to cover their true purpose:Hunting protected animals and selling meat.
In past cases, the police had cracked down illegal vendors that held legal certificates on ordinary animals but sold the meat of pangolin, giant salamanders and bats. They could not explain where the meat came from.
That's why, as the new coronavirus emerged, several legal experts jointly called for stricter legislation and more detailed rules on legal enforcement to make bushmeat totally disappear from tables.
Their call comes the a right time. In the past, such calls were mainly made from the angle of biodiversity, prompting people to protect animals. Now people are realizing how dangerous eating bushmeat can be. It's unfortunate, but some people won't care about something until it poses a danger to themselves.
Over 30 days from now, the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference will be held in Beijing. Let's hope the legislators and political advisers will propel stricter legislation and fill in any loopholes, to take bushmeat off the table for good.
That's not only for the benefit of wild animals, but also for the whole of humankind.