With the Year of the Snake just over three months away, local authorities in Shanghai are trying to head off an expected rise in demand for snake dishes by warning residents that eating or trading endangered wild animal, is against the law.
Restaurants in the city have started receiving special orders for snake from customers making reservations for their Chinese New Year Eve's banquet on February, reported the Shanghai-based Youth Daily.
"Though the sale of snakes has not seen a sudden rise recently, many people eat snake in the fall as a tonic before winter," said the owner of a snake-raising farm in the city's Qingpu district, surnamed Gu.
Gu told the Global Times he supplies King Cobra and Agkistrodon, a venomous pit viper, to restaurants. "He also supplies crocodile."
"Crocodiles and snakes are not considered wild animals if they are raised on farms," said Gu.
Yan Jingjing, director of the Shanghai Wildlife Conservation Management Station under the municipal forestry and environmental administration, told the Global Times that trading snakes and other endangered animals without a license is strictly banned.
Yan added that some species of Agkistrodon are categorized as protected wild animals. "Eating and trading them is against the Wild Animal Protection Law and violators will face criminal charges."
Yan said the city carries out regular crackdowns on illegal sales of wild animals.
"Apart from the destruction of the natural ecology, the animals carry many parasites, which are a potential health hazard," Yan added.
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