According to msnbc:
Normally adventurous Chinese diners are eating fewer owls, civets and other wildlife due to fears of SARS and bird flu, according to a survey released Tuesday by U.S. and Chinese conservation groups.
The survey of 24,000 people in 16 cities found that nearly 72 percent had not eaten wild animals in the past year, up from 51 percent in a similar 1999 survey, said San Francisco-based WildAid and the official China Wildlife Conservation Association.
For those who may be unfamiliar with civets, they’re almost like a cross between a cat and a weasel, and have been linked to SARS in China. And though my post on bushmeat largely focused on Africa, you can see from the story that eating wild animals anywhere can be a risky adventure. The article notes:
Wild animals have long been delicacies in China, where they are served at banquets to show off the host’s wealth. Rare species also are used in traditional medicine, which prescribes deer horn, snake blood and other products for a wide range of ailments.
The wild animal species found in Chinese markets during the survey included pangolin, ostrich, cape barn owl, sika deer, Asian giant soft shell turtle, elongated tortoise, Siamese crocodile, king cobra and the Chinese giant salamander — but no civets, the groups said.
About 32 percent of those surveyed said they ate wild animals for health and nutrition, 31 percent cited curiosity and 27 percent mentioned the taste. About 9 percent said they ate wild animals because it enhanced their social status.
So unlike Africa, most people don’t depend on these types of animals for their daily protein supply, making it less of a barrier to reduction of consumption. Still, as long as it’s linked to social status and simple good eatin’, it will be difficult to completely eliminate.