Civet traffic falls in China

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:


Guangzhou–Repeated health inspections of specialty meat
markets across Guangdong province hint that masked palm civets may at
last be getting some respite from Guangdong exotic meat buyers.
In January 2007, the Xinhua News Service reported, 7,000
health inspectors checked for civets at 10,000 restaurants, finding
one live civet and several frozen civet carcasses. A restaurant in
Foshan was fined for buying civets, and 18 restaurants were fined
for unspecified reasons. The contraband was markedly less than was
found in a November 2006 raid on an underground warehouse and nearby
meat shop that found 45 masked palm civets, 98 ferret badgers, and
31 other wild animals who are barred from sale for consumption.

“The vendors told us the civets were from the northern part
of China,” Guangzhou Forestry Public Security Bureau commissar Chen
Xibiao told Ivan Zhai of the South China Morning Post. “There are
masked palm civet farms in some provinces like Hubei and Shanxi,”
Zhai alleged, “that have not prohibited the sale of masked palm
civets like Guangdong has.”
As many as 10,000 civets confiscated from markets and
warehouses were killed after Guangdong banned the sale of civets in
January 2004, under pressure from Beijing, to help halt the spread
of Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Emerging in Guangdong in 2003,
SARS infected approximately 8,000 people worldwide within months,
killing about 800, including 299 in Hong Kong and nearly 500 in
mainland China.
SARS strains are endemic among both masked palm civets and
Chinese horseshoe bats. Investigators suspect SARS originated among
the bats, then mutated in masked palm civets into the form that
attacks humans.
A survey of 24,000 people in 16 Chinese cities, released in
April 2006 by WildAid and the China Wildlife Conservation
Association, found that 72% had not eaten wild animals in the past
year, up from 51% in a 1999 survey.

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