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February 3, 2023 5:53 pm

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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: China culls 1.6 tonnes of bamboo rats bred for their meat

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Officials at a Chinese province have reportedly culled more than 1.6 tonnes of farm-bred bamboo rats in one go after the government banned the eating and trading of wild animals in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chinese bamboo rats, which are linked to coronavirus, have been a sought-after food source in the country for centuries and hailed for their ‘nutritional value’. 

Forestry workers at Hubei Province, the former epicentre of the outbreak, buried more than 900 bamboo rats alive on Friday after seizing them from a local farmer, according to a report. 

In February, China’s central government issued a temporary ban on all trade and consumption of wild animals – a practice believed responsible for the global crisis. 

The government of Hubei, where the coronavirus was first detected, passed a law in March to ban the eating of wild animals completely, including those bred or raised by people. 

The culling was carried out by the Xian’an District Forest Bureau of Xianning, a city of around 2.5million people in Hubei, reported Xianning Television and Radio Station on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter.

All of the bamboo rats, amounting 916 in total, were said to belong to the same breeder, who ran one of the biggest bamboo rat farms in the area.

The report said that specialist workers had dug a deep pit in the mountains far from sources of drinking water before placing the live creatures inside. 

Footage shows lime powder was scattered on the rats before they were buried to reduce the impact on the local environment.

Apart from the bamboo rats, the local forest bureau culled seven porcupines weighing a total of 140 kilograms (308 pounds), 1,605 kilograms (3,538 pounds) of snakes and four kilograms (8.8 pounds) of snake eggs.  

Chinese bamboo rats, or ‘zhu shu’ in Mandarin, are known for their portly figure and fat cheeks.

A wild rodent species feeding on bamboo, these huge rats can weigh up to five kilograms (11 pounds) and grow to 45 centimetres (17 inches) long. 

According to traditional Chinese medicine, their meat can detoxify one’s body and improve the functions of one’s stomach and spleen. 

Bamboo bats can fetch up to 1,000 yuan (£113) per pair alive or 280 yuan (£31) per kilo grilled, according to Mr Zhushu, an internet forum for bamboo rat breeders.

On one page, the forum lists 30 different ways to cook bamboo rat meat, from grilling and roasting to pan-frying and simmering into a soup. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, experts have been trying to identify the source of the pathogen, and many believe it came from wild animals sold as food. 

Although the exact source of the virus remains unclear, Dr Zhong Nanshan, China’s leading epidemiologist, claimed in January that the outbreak might be linked to the eating of bamboo rats or badgers. 

Other experts have named bats, snakes or pangolins as the likely source.

As of February, there were an estimated 25 million bamboo rats on various Chinese farms, mostly in southern parts of the country, such as Guangxi and Guangdong where locals welcome exotic meat.

In Guangxi, a largely agricultural province with around 50 million people, more than 100,000 people were raising roughly 18 million bamboo rats, a local official told China News Weekly.    

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠