The country has long been accused by conservationists of tolerating a shadowy trade in endangered animals for food or as ingredients in traditional medicines.
“If we want to do everything in our power to prevent deadly disease outbreaks such as coronavirus, then a permanent ban on wildlife trade, in China, and around the world, is the only solution,” said Neil D’Cruze, global head of wildlife research at World Animal Protection.
A price list that circulated on China’s internet for a business at the Wuhan market showed a menagerie of animals or animal-based products including live foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines, camel meat and other game — 112 items in all.
The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus that killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in 2002-03 also has been traced to wild animals, with scientists saying it likely originated in bats, later reaching humans via civets.
“Working to end the trade in wildlife can help to resolve some of the longer-term risks associated with animal reservoirs of zoonoses,” Wood said, referring to infectious diseases that can be passed between animals and humans.