Three million snakes a year were being bred and traded in the tiny snake breeding village of Zisiqiao in China.
Residents are excepting that the ban on wildlife trading means no more breeding of snakes for them.
“Of course it (snake breeding ban) is due to epidemic… It’s a wild animal. Professor Zhong Nanshan already said (the virus could come from) bats or snakes,” said Yang Heyong, a 71-year old resident and former breeder.
Zisiqiao has been a center of China’s snake breeding industry for around 30 years. The village is dotted with small factory farms, that are now closed.
Many families in the village also raised snakes in makeshift backyard holds before selling them to local restaurants or traditional medicine traders.
With the global coronavirus pandemic believed to have originated in the exotic meat products on sale in the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China has taken action to crack down on the breeding, trade and consumption of all kinds of wild animals.
The broad consensus suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in horseshoe bats, but it has not yet been determined how it reached humans. Early research pointed to snakes, but many now say pangolins.
China issued a temporary ban of all wildlife trade. It has also vowed to make changes to its animal protection and epidemic prevention legislation to make the ban permanently in law.
As many as 13 provinces have already implemented their own local regulations designed to ban the consumption of wild animals.
The economic impact hasn’t yet hit home: winter is the off-season where residents rely on their stockpiles from the previous year, and breeding normally begins again in April or May.
But while some residents Zisiqiao told Reuters they expected the ban to be relaxed later this year, once the epidemic is declared over, the village’s vice Communist Party chief insisted residents would not be allowed to return to their previous snake business.