"Post-pandemic relaxation of restrictions could weaken animal protection and pose a hazard to public health, say experts".
"China appears to be weakening its post-Covid restrictions on the farming of wildlife such as porcupines, civets and bamboo rats, which raises a new risk to public health and biodiversity, warn NGOs and experts.
Before the pandemic, wildlife farming was promoted by government agencies as an easy way for rural Chinese people to get rich. But China issued an outright ban on hunting, trading and transporting wildlife, as well as the consumption as food, after public health experts suggested the virus could have originated from the supply chain.
Around 14 million people worked in the wildlife farming industry before the Covid restrictions, with the industry worth an estimated 520bn yuan (£60bn).
The ban covers almost 1,800 animals with important ecological, economic and social values – known as the “three values”. This included hedgehogs, raccoon dogs, civets, wild boars, porcupines and bamboo rats. Yet the consumption of wildlife as food has been lying in a grey area, say experts, with authorities admitting that current regulations aren’t clear enough."