Blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese authorities want to annihilate the illegal wildlife trade by offering cash to Chinese farmers to quit breeding exotic animals.
According to animal rights activists, for the first time, Chinese authorities pledged to buy out breeders as an attempt to constrain the practice.
With its risk of carrying diseases to humans, in the last few months, China banned the selling of wild animals for food consumption, but the field of research and traditional medicine are exempted from the prohibition.
Aside from the first reported case of coronavirus, China's central city of Wuhan is famous for its exotic animal market, linking the coronavirus from bats passing it to people before the global outbreak.
In order to guide farmers from transitioning to alternative livelihoods, two of China's central provinces have already outlined the information regarding the buyout program.
On Friday, authorities of Hunan province set out a compensation scheme to convince farmers and breeders to focus on other livestock or producing products like tea and other herbal medicine and leave the illegal animal trade industry.
Moreover, government officials are offering a certain amount for each wild animal, for each kilo of a cobra, rat snake, or king rattlesnake, they will pay it for 120 yuan or around $17, while the price of bamboo rat per kilo is $11.
Believed to have carried Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS to the people in a previous coronavirus outbreak about decades ago, a civet cat can be exchanged for 600 yuan or $85.
Meanwhile, neighboring Jiangxi province released documents about their plans in helping farmers to dispose of the wild animals and give financial assistance.
On a report last week in Jiangxi, the province has not less than 2,300 licensed breeders, most of what they are breeding are wild animals for food consumption.
According to the report, the worth of animals that they are breeding is currently at 1.6 billion yuan or more than $225,000.
The two provinces who initiated the elimination of illegal wildlife trade border Hubei, the province where the COVID-19 first emerged in December.
According to an Animal rights group, Humane Society International or HSI, provinces of Hunan and Jiangxi are major wildlife breeding provinces, and over the last decade, Jiangxi experience a fast expansion of the illegal trade and they added that the revenues from breeding in 2018 alone reached 10 billion yuan or 1.4 billion US dollars.
Policy specialist of HSI in China, Peter Li shared that similar plans must be disseminated all over China.
However, Li warned that Hunan's proposals leave room for breeders or farmers to continue breeding exotic animals despite not sending the animals to the food market, as wild animals bred for fur, entertainment, and traditional Chinese medicine are not included in Hunan's plan.
On the other hand, Li stated that the Chinese government nevertheless moving on the right track as in the last 20 years, this is the first time that the authorities decided to do it, which can result in these animals to be phased out in the market in the future.