Bat Eater Quarantined After Cops Find Carcass Stash

Story By: John FengSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report

This is the wildlife trafficking suspect who has been put in emergency quarantine after he allegedly caught dozens of bats and birds despite concerns that the deadly coronavirus pathogen may have originated from them.

Fruit orchard manager Mr Yang was arrested on 24th February after authorities received a tip-off about his worrying practices in Dechang County in China’s south-western province of Sichuan.

Investigators with Yajiang Forestry Police Station found the carcasses of 33 bats and 26 birds in his possession, including that of a Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).

AsiaWire / Dechang Forestry Police

The animals were unlawfully caught by Mr Yang, who manages his brother’s loquat orchard and installed nets without official approval in order to deter birds and bats from eating the fruit.

According to the police, Mr Yang admitted to eating many of the bats and birds caught in the nets, while selling the rest for profit, since at least 2002.

The orchard farm manager denied having eaten any bats in recent weeks amid the outbreak of COVID-19, which is strongly linked – up to 96 percent similarity, studies show – with bat coronavirus.

Mr Yang’s stash of carcasses was “destroyed” and the areas where the animals were caught disinfected, the authorities said.

Meanwhile, Mr Yang has been placed in mandatory quarantine and is expected to be charged with animal trafficking offences at a later stage.

The Chinese government suspended wild animal trade in January but has this week announced an outright ban on the sale and consumption of exotics meats in a bid to further slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While the exact origins of COVID-19 remain a mystery, experts have strong reason to believe the deadly respiratory disease passed from wild animals to humans.

The global death toll of COVID-19 has reached 2,858, with more than 83,700 confirmed cases worldwide.

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