Will Coronavirus Mark the End of Wildlife Trade in China?

The beginning of 2020, the year of Mouse, was supposed to be a season of festivity in China. During the Spring Festival, the most important celebration of the year, the cities and towns of China seemed unusually desolate because of the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This epidemic from Wuhan city, Hubei Province, was horrifying in its strong infectious nature. Despite the efforts made to contain the virus, the number of infected people is still surging. As a result, doctors and other experts in the field of medicine are working hard days and nights, pouring their hearts and souls to combat the epidemic.

Under these special circumstances, Chinese government announced that the starting date of work and school was postponed, and advised everyone to stay at home. The epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei Province, was even quarantined as a whole. No one could leave the province without a special permit. This epidemic that took the whole country by surprise was indeed, a disaster in almost every aspect.

As the suspected origin of the outbreak, the seafood market in Wuhan city was investigated by the authority. Not only were the traces of this virus found everywhere in this notorious market, the authority also found that this market was a wildlife trading center with a staggering number of illegal shops. It is now certainly true that this black trading site was the hotbed of this particular outbreak.

Chinese people should have learned their lessons when the SARS epidemic prevailed in the country in 2003. The government should have halted illegal trade of wild animals in the span of 17 years. But for the reckless inattention to this issue, people have to swallow the consequences once again. This new outbreak, along with the SARS epidemic, is an alarming bell for us humans. And I would rather believe that people will realize the damage of wildlife trade, and the imperativeness of putting it a stop.

From the standpoint of conservation, this outbreak may be a turning point for the prevailing wildlife trade in China. As a direct result of the outbreak, the illegal tradings will certainly be investigated and controlled. Eliminating wildlife trade, is not only a protection to the diversity of wild animals, but also a protection to ourselves. Animals are immune to a variety of viruses that are proven to be devastating to humans, and they are naturally exposed to these viruses by living in the wild. In this regard, how is it not a natural rule for wildlife and humans to “mind their own business,” and coexist peacefully? And, to people that either enjoy or take pride in consuming these wild animals, how are they not gambling with their own life?

On another level, this epidemic let more Chinese people learn about the power of public opinions, and how to harness this power in order to cease illegal trade. Chinese government has made significant progress on protecting wild animals and the environment through advertisement and education, but more needs to be done. A lot of times, the act of harming the animals is performed in discreet, causing the public to be unaware of these illegal actions. The focus should therefore be on the exposure of illegal trades on a national level.

This Novel Conoravirus has caused a calamity, that is for sure. But I think, our people ought to learn something from this unfortunate incident, so that our country wouldn’t be “sick” for no reason. This outbreak, caused by wildlife dealings, is yet another retaliation from nature. As much as it seems like a devastating revenge, it is also a warning to us, saying that it is time to stop. If we could systematically halt wildlife trading in China after this unfortunate disaster, maybe it is not that unfortunate after all.

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