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Authorities in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, have officially banned eating, hunting and breeding wild animals.
A notice on the city’s municipal government website said the ban will come into immediate effect and will last for five years.
The novel coronavirus was first recorded in Wuhan late last year and the outbreak was linked to a seafood market where live animals were also sold.
However, following the outbreak of the virus, hunting is now banned in Wuhan except for “scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances,” the notice says.
“Hunting of wild animals is strictly prohibited,” the statement says. “The administrative area of ??the whole city is a wildlife sanctuary.”
There will also be strict new controls on the breeding of wild animals, with city officials making it clear that none can be reared as food.
“It is prohibited to artificially breed terrestrial wild animals and rare and endangered aquatic wild animals under national key protection for the purpose of eating,” the notice says.
The notice also says illegal wildlife trading is “comprehensively prohibited” and there will be strengthening of “the supervision and inspection of wild animals”.
Officials will also “actively carry out wildlife protection and public health safety publicity and education, eliminate the abuse of wild animals, promote a civilised and healthy, green and environmentally friendly lifestyle, and create a good atmosphere for people and nature to live in harmony”.
The move comes amid mounting pressure for China to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade blamed by many for the Covid-19 pandemic.