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The city of Wuhan has banned eating wild animals and cash is being offered to farmers to stop them from breeding exotic animals, according to CBS News. The news follows increasing pressure being put on the country to eliminate the illegal wildlife trade, which has been for the current coronavirus pandemic.
Wuhan's local administration announced Wednesday that it has officially banned the eating of wild animals. Wuhan has approximately 11 million residents and is located in the province of Hubei.
Almost all hunting has been banned within the city limits unless it is government sanctioned for "scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances."
The wet markets had been banned back in March, but evidence came out that they were continuing to operate.
New restrictions were also introduced by the city regarding the breeding of wild animals. Officials noted that the local administration is planning to buy out wild animal breeders.
This is part of a national plan and animal rights activists say it is a first for Chinese authorities.
Selling wild animals for human consumption was banned in China when the outbreak began spreading throughout the world, but the trade is still legal for certain things like traditional medicine and research.
Many believe that the virus was transferred to people from bats before spreading across the world.
Buyout programs are already being planned out in two central provinces in order to allow farmers to transition to other forms of income.
A compensation scheme was released by Hunan on Friday suggesting that farmers make herbal medicines and tea or care for other livestock.
Farms will be evaluated by authorities who will offer a one-time 120 yuan ($16) payment for every kilogram of king ratsnake, rat snake and cobra. There will also be 75 yuan offered for every kilogram of bamboo rat.
A civet cat can fetch 600 yuan. It is believed that the civet cat carried Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which also spread around the world close to two decades ago.
Jiangxi province has released similar plans to help farmers with financial aid.
There are over 2,300 licensed breeders in the province according to state-run Jiangxi Daily newspaper. The report said that their stock adds up to around 1.6 billion yuan ($225 million). Hubei is bordered by both Hunan and Jiangxi.
The Humane Society International (HSI) says that Jiangxi and Hunan are "major wildlife breeding provinces." The animal rights group said that in 2018, breeding revenues reached 10 billion yuan.
Peter Li, a policy specialist for HSI told AFP that the measures should be implemented countrywide.
Measures implemented to ban the consumption and trade of wild animals were made by Beijing following the SARS outbreak, though they never actually stopped the trade.
"In the past 20 years, a lot of people have been telling the Chinese government to buy out certain wildlife breeding operations - for example bear farming," Li said.
"This is the first time that the Chinese government actually decided to do it, which opens a precedent... (for when) other production needs to be phased out."