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Opinion | Coronavirus: Revenge of the Pangolins?

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Besides that our ancestors really stated in any other case.

If something, the meat of pangolins was believed to trigger illnesses, moderately than remedy any: It tastes bitter and was regarded as toxic. “Beiji Qianjin Yaofang” (备急千金要方), a set of prescriptions compiled by Solar Simiao, an alchemist of the Tang dynasty, suggested in 652: “There are lurking illnesses in our stomachs. Don’t eat the meat of pangolins, as a result of it might set off them and hurt us.” “Bencao Gangmu” (本草纲目, Compendium of Materia Medica), the Chinese language drugs and delicacies capstone by Li Shizhen (1518-93) — an herbalist, naturalist and doctor — warned that individuals who eat pangolin “could contract persistent diarrhea, after which go into convulsion and get a fever.”

Historical texts additionally cautioned towards consuming any variety of different wild animals, together with snakes and badgers and different creatures, comparable to boars, that at this time are thought to typically transmit illnesses to people.

And but massive knowledge retrieved from Baidu, China’s equal of Google, present that over the last decade earlier than the Covid-19 outbreak, between 2009 and 2019, the key phrase “pangolin” accounted for 23 % of all of the searches for “ye wei” (野味), or “wild tastes.” It trumped searches for boar, bamboo rat and palm civet.

Since final month’s ban on sure civets, bats, marmots — and pangolins — searches for what wild animals can nonetheless be eaten have been trending on Chinese language social media. “Are bullfrogs nonetheless accessible?” “How about deer?” “And quail? Or quail eggs?”

Did pangolins transmit the coronavirus to people? Is Covid-19 their revenge on us for bringing them to the sting of extinction? In any occasion, one more ban on buying and selling and consuming pangolins isn’t probably to assist them, particularly with its caveats for medical makes use of. Higher as an alternative to tackle fashionable misconceptions about well being and traditions — and for that, nothing beats going again to centuries-old texts.

Wufei Yu is a Chinese language journalist and contributor to Outdoors Journal.

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