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Consumption of wildlife drops in China after Covid-19 outbreak: Survey study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 23, 2020 Published on November 23, 2020

During the pandemic, the percentage of participants consuming wildlife was 17.8%

A new survey-based study, ‘Attitudes Towards Wildlife Consumption Inside and Outside Hubei Province, China, Concerning the SARS and COVID-19 Outbreaks’, aimed to find the wildlife consumption pattern in China after the coronavirus outbreak.

A team of experts, including researchers from the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, UK, among others, conducted the study published in the journal, Human Ecology.

Why China?

The survey study was conducted in China as the Covid-19 outbreak reportedly occurred in one of its provinces in December 2019.

The researchers wrote: “They had been exposed to wildlife such as poultry, bats, marmots, hedgehogs, badgers, birds, and snakes. Intermediate animal hosts were speculated to be bats or pangolins.”

The researchers intended to explore if there has been any change post-Covid in the attitude towards eating wildlife after the outbreaks.

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In the survey, a total of 348 adults took part, of which, 177 were males. The average age of the participants was 29.4 years. Over 95 per cent were less than 50 years of age. None of the participants had Covid-19.

The survey revealed that during the SARS outbreak, the percentage of people consuming wildlife was 27 per cent. During the pandemic, the percentage of participants consuming wildlife was 17.8 per cent.

The most typical reasons provided by participants for eating wildlife was the novelty of the meat (among 64.9 per cent during the SARS outbreak and 54.8 per cent during theoutbreak).

The commonest reasons for never having eaten wild animal meat was dislike for the meat (47.7 per cent during SARS and 39.9 per cent during Covid-19).

The survey further noted that 52.5 per cent reported that they had stopped eating wild animal meat because the law protecting these species.

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The team found that educational level was significantly associated with wildlife consumption during the SARS and Covid-19 outbreaks.

More than half of the participants thought that palm civets were carriers of SARS (53.7 per cent), and 42.2 per cent thought bats were carriers of SARS-CoV-2.

Conclusions

The research team concluded that over a period of 17 years between the SARS outbreak and the Covid-19 outbreak, attitudes towards the consumption of wildlife in China have seen an astronomical shift.

They wrote: “At present, Chinese populations seem to be in favour of stopping wildlife consumption and fighting against illegal hunting. However, some people in China will likely continue to consume wildlife meat for many reasons, including believed health benefits.”

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Published on November 23, 2020
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