Civet cat and porcupine still hot items in South China markets

Remember all the talk about SARS being a catalyst for cleaning up the markets in Guandong province, where animals and people are crowded together in ways that would give a US health inspector a major coronary? Seems the concern has died down, and conditions are back to normal (i.e., filthy and unsafe).


In southern China, it doesn’t matter if an animal is an endangered species. As long as it walks, wriggles or jumps, it’s good enough for the pot. To prove the point, visit a wild animal market in the thriving city of Guangzhou.

“You want to buy a porcupine?” a worker asked as he looked up from a half-disemboweled civet cat, which some scientists say is the source of the deadly SARS virus that wreaked havoc around the world last year, killing more than 800 people.

Squatting just next to him, a few workers scrub the white carcass of a freshly plucked porcupine, a protected species under the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.

Nearby, half a dozen other people sit around mounds of water snakes, peeling their skin off and revealing a pink stretch of flesh. Water snake meat is relatively cheap and popular but conservationists have warned the trade is endangering the reptile, once abundant in the wild.

In this dark, foul-smelling market in Guangzhou, traders have just about anything to offer from birds and waterfowl, domestic dogs and cats, to the exotic flying squirrels and leopard cats.

civet 2.jpg

The funny/sad article makes it clear that the sellers are fully aware that they are selling rare species into extinction, and that they’re breaking the law. And it doesn’t matter a bit. No thought to the future and the world others will inherit. And we wonder why there’s an environemntal crisis in China.

The Discussion: 28 Comments

There seems to be a prevailing attitude in China not to see the bigger picture, the environment, piracy, human rights, people don’t seem to realise how what they are doing causes a lot more harm further down the line, and to a lot more people/animals. They can’t see the world beyond their backdoor because they have been conditioned to only deal with the imediate and leave everything else up to the CCP.

The are makig a quick buck today and are not thinking about the world tomorrow.

I was in China over the sumer and remember seeing a series of adverts aimed at telling people that they should refraim from eating endangered species, only, and here comes the twisted bit. the adverts were mostly conducted in unsubtitled English, they made no mention of the trade in endangered species for traditional Chinese medicine, and they appeared largely aimed at critisizing Japan for eating whale meat and other endangered marine species. Oh and they were aired just as whaling authorities in Japan wanted the ban on comecial whaling to be lifted.

I’ve never eaten whale meat, or any other endangered species, and I’m non the worse for it, what’s wrong with eating farmed animals?

October 5, 2004 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

When you are barely one generation and a heartbeat away from extreme poverty, political chaos and hunger, the here-and-how priority is to pull yourself up, not to worry about environment, human rights, etc – YET.

As for leaving everything to CCP: perhaps still the better option (for the moment) in a country with too many people, too few oppurtunities still. Give it time.

October 5, 2004 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

They can still pull themselves up while being mindful of the environment and human rights. It’s not either-or. You don’t get a second chance with the environment; once it’s ruined, it can take generations to get it back, and even then it may be f*cked-up beyond all repair.

October 5, 2004 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

Those making and spending lots of money from buying and selling exotic animals for food are not a heartbeat away from extreme poverty and hunger.

October 5, 2004 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Heh. I am reminded of that South Park episode:

“You white Americans make me sick! You waste food, oil, and everything else, because you are so rich. And then you tell the rest of the world to save the rainforest because you like it’s pretty

October 5, 2004 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

God damn, but I’ve got a hankering for some barbeque porcupine.

October 5, 2004 @ 11:50 pm | Comment

Sorry but I think environment and human rights are rather prickly issues (with all respect to porcupines).

One major Western country has a worse record than China for environment – and no excuses, cos it’s an industrialised one.

As for making pots of $$$ from selling exotic animals – it’s not right – but, I don’t know.

Maybe it doesn’t make that much $$$ to provide that Merc, and it’s the only thing better than a sweatshop making garments for export that sell for 600 per cent mark-up elsewhere?

Yes, at the end of the day, the environment and other animals matter, and constant agitation by concerned parties helps. But it takes time.

Why don’t we discuss mink and sable instead – back in fashion on 5th avenue this year, despite PETA’s efforts!!

October 6, 2004 @ 12:43 am | Comment


If you look at the price of some of these animal, it’s not poor farmers who are buying and selling them it is rich city folk, 360 Kuai a cattiy for Pangolin is not cheap meat, and neither are sharks fins or the host of other delacacies that are eaten in South China.

There is an over whelming image in China, especially in the rich parts, that as long as it’s good for today then its good for you, wider problems are rarely thought about in China, and this goes for a great many issues. It is part of the central culture, you don’t plan ahead because the goverment does it for you.

Momo, the mink and sable on sale in your neck of the woods is FARMED, it is is a wholey different issue and unless you wear plastic or synthetic shoes and don’t keep your britches up with a leather belt, then your doing exactly the same to some poor cow as some snooty madam is to a mink.

Fur is about the poor berating the rich, you don’t see animal rights protesters burning leather wash cloaths or attacking nike for making leather soccer boots that are available to the everyday people.

PETA also have a vegan agenda that is rather dangerous.

October 6, 2004 @ 4:39 am | Comment

Give it time? How about making a concentrated effort to educate people about individual responsibility and the effects of NOT taking an individual responsibility. The marketing of almost extinct species is merely indicative of a vastly large population that is continually held in ignorance and continually led astray through an antiquated collective system and a hooligan political party where individual responsibility escapes them, but oh yeah, they blindly are led through all the CCP crap like MORONS! May god help you if you’re an animal in Mainland China–comparing marketing of these animals to other countries–doesn’t even come close to doing this issue justice. Damnation people! Just walk through the mainland and look and take a wiff of the world’s largest cesspool. Wonder why it is that way? Japan? The US? I don’t think so. The people are merely struggling in the waste, and they seem quite happy in it–unless you point out how hazardous it is or how destructive is. These people need a quick kick in the ass–start with those sub-humans in the CCP hierarchy would be a good start. Bring on the 2008 Olympics!!!!

October 6, 2004 @ 6:16 am | Comment

I supposed US of A can talk about concentrated efforts today, to educate people today.

Less than 50 years ago, poor Mrs Rosa Parks was about to be booted out of her seat, before she refused and it took plenty of rioting and Watts before anything good could even happen.

I don’t think US is quite in a position to teach people about these matters. why talk about animals, Ed, when your country can’t even respect other PEOPLE in other REAL COUNTRIES?

Don’t take a walk thru China. Take a walk through Harlem or take a walk through Iraq.

October 6, 2004 @ 9:29 pm | Comment


I don’t know what is PETA’s vegan agenda. So maybe you can enlighten me.

As for agendas, as I have stated in another post, the agenda of watchdog organisations can sometimes be questionable.

Korea continues to have dog meat restaurants, and the French way of raising geese for pate…I hope you are not a pate lover. And both of them are developed nations.

Farming of mink and sable are no less different, to me, as consuming any other animals. Tho I NEVER go near this sort of food myself.

October 6, 2004 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

Momo, stop being an asshole. In the US there is at least a rule of law, so Rosa Parks could do what she did and change the nation — not get tortured or killed for it. Granted, the US has lots of bad things on its record, but in terms of a functional society with enforceable laws and protections against pollution, we are at the top. China is at a different place on the list, and considering its success and progress since the early 1990s, not enough has been done to address it, and that’s not an American’s opinion — many responsible people in China feel the exact same way. Unlike in the US, there’s no place for these people to go, except maybe to jail if they make too much noise.

What we are doing now in Iraq is an aberration, and one day we’ll all look back at it in shame. At least I have the freedom to criticize it, and to vote for those I believe will end it as best they can. No such freedoms in the PRC.

October 6, 2004 @ 9:35 pm | Comment


I agree with you. And I don’t think it’s polite of you to call me an asshole.

If you are a well-read person, you will note my handle is Murasaki `Momo’ Shikibu, which I have taken for the Japanese court LADY who wrote Tale of Genji, believed to be the world’s first novel – and written in Japanese, not Chinese, the language of the literati then.

China’s economic success is something that even its own leaders may not have expected, especially through a single decade.

It was led by Jiang and Zhu, two men just one generation from Deng, who himself was of that vintage that lived through China’s darkest years.

Their worst fear is a China that will plunge back into chaos.

But perhaps it is now time for that country to have the confidence to believe hat those days will hopefully NEVER come back, and start making those changes.

That’s what I mean about giving it time. We’ll have to see what Hu can do. Or not.

Animals have their rights, yes. I keep an imported dog myself. And the environment matters.

But the country’s priority is still to feed, house and provide jobs for plenty of PEOPLE.

Will Hu object to anyone who wants to take up the cause of animals, if there’s no hidden agenda?

As for Mrs Rosa Parks, I don’t think she could simpl have done what she did. She would have gone to jail, too – if not for the fact that it simply lit the fuse of collective suppressed anger. As that line goes: I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it any longer.

That is what the government in China is slowly beginning to fear.

Jiang couldn’t have left a moment sooner, and allow new blood who can address a different set of challenges.

October 6, 2004 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

Sorry if I offended you, but I have low tolerance when commenters tell me America is as bad or worse than another country like China, but then can’t support their argument. I am extremely critical of my government, but I also appreciate the freedoms and benefits that come with living in a society that’s about as free as it gets.

Rosa Parks used America’s legal system and free press to change the nation. Many weren’t so lucky, and were imprisoned or lynched. But it’s to America’s credit that a person with courage and vision can change things, and that our relatively free media can help prevent injustices (not that it doesn’t often fail to do that).

I don’t know why you’re going on about animal rights; that was never a point of my post. It’s about sanitation and the environment and the risks of SARS — the fact that there’s a scary carelessness demonstrated by many Chinese when it comes to their environment, an attitude that it’s alright to dump toxic sludge into the river as long as I live somewhere else and don’t have to die drinking that water. (If you are skeptical as to whether this is a common attitude, I suggest you buy a copy of Jasper Beckers book “he Chinese” as fast as you can.)

October 6, 2004 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

I am not offended at all.You gotta learn to take the punches as good as you give, all things being equal.

I certainly did not say that America is as bad as China. America is definitely a better system – but it started as an `open’ country with plenty of oppurtunities.

China can never EXACTLY be like America, for that reason: we have different baggage.

You were the one who mentioned human rights, and environment.

I do not dispute that indifferent attitude. But as I have said, if you are only one generation away from extreme poverty – when there was barely even shelter – it takes time to change, for people who started without anything.

Rome wasn’t built in one day, so can a country of 1.3 billion change overnight?

My beauty editor colleague just mentioned the fact that even in Japan – well into the 1970s – women suffered serious facial pigmentation due to poisonous ingredients in their skincare. How long ago is that, and Japan was already a `developed’ country.

I appear to digress, but my point here is that – it takes time, and constant surveillance, to change.

As for Mrs Rosa Parks, yes, she went to the courts – and she won, because it was a cause celebre.

October 6, 2004 @ 10:51 pm | Comment

I once had a poodle named Momo. The bitch would piss and shit outside on the grass–unlike millions of chinese children that drop gallons and loads on the streets or even grown men who will do it in plain sight on city streets here in China–something you won’t see on the streets of Harlem–can’t vouch for Iraq though.

My next dog I will name her Rosa Parks. At least she had the guts to speak the truth rather than say, “mei banfa” and just let things go on in the same deteriorating way as the housing of Civet cats in cages in the filthy markets of Guangzhou.

Geez, why the hell does it take an international organization to clean up a Chinese mainland problem? “No more foreign organizations, so ha ha let’s go back to being dangerous and irresponsible again.” Duh…….forgive me for sounding like a self-righteous asshole, but that’s my point–they don’t take responsibility and become PISSED when you point out to them.

October 7, 2004 @ 1:44 am | Comment

Of course USA is very responsible. That’s why it has wonderful gun laws, and policemen beating up blacks like Rodney King, and would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t caught on video.

And of course, USA is such a great place – but the moment you point it out that it’s environmental record is as bad as any other, rednecks come charging in.

And who asked you to come charging into China? Don’t like it? Yankee, go home.

October 7, 2004 @ 2:27 am | Comment

Tho I really don’t know which cage or hole you can go “home” to. After all, the land you are SQUATTING on didn’t quite belong to you, to start with.

But I forget – it’s because the natives didn’t know how to hang on to it, love the land, protect the animals, etc.

Right -if China doesn’t do the same, of course big, hairy-nosed rednecks like you, of course, have the right to sneer at how backward other people are.

And you don’t have to name your next dog Rosa Parks. You still treat them pretty much like dogs.

October 7, 2004 @ 2:33 am | Comment

Nah, I don’t want to go home. Rodney King eventually proved what a louse he was, because eventually he did the same thing again, and was promptly arrested and this time, convicted.
Our guns laws are wonderful. But if you come to the US, particularly around the state of Lousiana, I wouldn’t recommend knocking on someone’s door in the middle of the night.

I also wouldn’t recommend going to the PSB and talking about human rights or Tinnamen Square where so many were wasted for a despotic idiot’s fear.
You’re wrong about me being a Yankee. I didn’t come charging into China.

Instead, I came to perform a serious duty: I am a knight in the service of the World’s Policemen, but more important, I am really the Great Satan.
One day, you can pull your brains out of your ass where they have apparently not be part of your physical evolutionary process and place them under your skull.

In the meantime, I would recommend you seriously contemplate becoming a campaign organizer for George Bush. He needs all the friends he can get in the international community right now. This is something you can’t get from Fat Ass Jiang Zemin. OH sorry, you didn’t elect him or Hu Jin Tao either. Follow the red brick road, follow the red brick road…we’re off we’re off to shit and piss and incubating the world’s diseases, but what the hell we have the WTO and the Olympics!” Keep singing it Momo. Maintain the illusion.

Your press doesn’t say diddly about your own countries problems, most of the time it’s about everyone’s elses!

October 7, 2004 @ 2:43 am | Comment

Of course USA is very responsible. That’s why it has wonderful gun laws, and policemen beating up blacks like Rodney King, and would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t caught on video.

Momo, you really are an asshole. If you can’t understand that in America we have a free media that could show the Rodney King video and a legal system, however imperfect, that can bring the perpetrators to trial, then I’m afraid there’s no hope. It’s a shame that the cops in that case were let off. But look at your other example, Rosa Parks. She won, and we all won. And there are countless examples. Our president breaks the law and we can go after him — just ask Clinton or Nixon. Can you do that in China?

And who asked you to come charging into China? Don’t like it? Yankee, go home.

As our esteemed vice president would say, Go fuck yourself.

October 7, 2004 @ 7:28 pm | Comment


October 9, 2004 @ 6:20 am | Comment

Let’s return to the topic, of endangered species and the environment.

Most Chinese involved in the trade and the eating of those creatures don’t even understand what the implications of these two words, ‘endangered species’ mean. And neither do they of an even more difficult word like ‘environment’.

Some have to make a living, like workers of the Australian woodchip industry, where forests of several hundred (maybe thousand) years old have been decimated for export to Japan. The pro-logging govt has just won another 3-year term in office.

Some, like Europeans and S Americans, like to eat exotic stuff, supplied through, for example, illegal trawling of rare fishes in Australian waters. These occur on a regular basis, where recently an Australian warship chased a SAmerican trawler for thousands of miles before the SAfrican navy helped intercept the trawler.

If there is a market, there will be a supplier. The Japanese, one of the most nature loving people, with their deep pockets and their industrial hunger for woodchip, buy large tracts of Australian (Tasmanian) forests, to be delivered as chips, and SE Asian jungles, delivered as hardwood logs.

It’s no point telling Brazilians, Malaysians or Indonesians that the world needs their oxygen producing jungles because the timber trade runs into billions – maybe the world may wish to pay an oxygen tax to these countries who would be more than pleased to stop mowing down their jungles – as long as they receive an amount equivalent to what they would obtain from the timber trade.

No foresight? Hard to have foresight when you’re a 3rd world nation struggling to obtain funds to develop. Western threats not to purchase anything made from primary jungle hardwood have no significant effect thus far.

Some issues like the eating of whale meat are, as a Japanese spokesman claimed on Australian TV (60 Minutes), are thousand years old culture, not to be so easily dismissed by nations not practising that culture. I am sure the Norwegians and Icelanders agree.

BTW, I’m a whale-lover.

Rather than just condemn X-country for their people’s ignorance or culture, it’s better to provide alternatives.

Take the cases of poppy growing in Turkey, the golden triangle and other parts of northern Thailand, and cocaine in SAmerica – the USA provides incentive and viable agricultural alternatives to the tribes whose culture and livelihood depend on poppy and cocaine harvesting. This is not a guarantee that all farmers will stop growing and harvesting the product, but it does minimise the trade to a more controllable level. Now, that’s a more positive and productive step rather than condemnation or threats.

The Green movement has considered eco-tourism to demotivate logging in Aus primary forests, with some limited success. Very innovative – maybe in this Chinese problem, if the authorities (national and local) can be convinced of eco-tourism’s viability then it may gain some headway into replacing the current trap-kill-eat practice that’s slowly eliminating Chinese wildlife.

The POCKET is the greatest motivator of all, rather than abstract issues like endangered species or difficult science topics like environmental care for the poor hunter laying traps in some mosquito/leech-infested Yunnanese jungles, or condemnation/threats.

October 10, 2004 @ 1:37 am | Comment

oh man, momo is a real cunt-rag. just another example of the usual stupid bullshit you get when you try to discuss any problem here in china. it’s worse than trying to get a straight response out of bush/ cheney!

October 10, 2004 @ 2:04 am | Comment

I just wanted to say something to Momo about her use of Rosa Parks to back up her non-point. It’s pathetic. At least Rosa Parks was in a system where she could do something to change. Also, please don’t act like China is sophisticated in terms of race relations. First, China has its mini-colonies in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan that are an undividable part of the motherland, right? Second, I’m in China, and I am black. For this reason, I am even more furious that you wanna talk about Rosa Parks to back up your lame point. do you know what it is like to be black in China? oh yeah, there is no racism here right? Do you know what it is like to look for a job? To have a Chinese girlfriend here? Trust me, it’s not easy. You wanna talk about Rosa Parks? People here aren’t even willing to give old ladies a seat on the subway! Also, there was a march in Nanjing protesting black students going out with Chinese girls. Of course, pretty much any other march would have been shut down and its leaders arrested, but this was allowed, not very much unlike the fascist madness we saw after China’s defeat in the World Cup.
Anyway, my point is, don’t always try to compare the USA with China when people talk about China’s problems, and be like “oh the USA has problems too.” we all know that. And we can talk freely about them, which is something you can’t do in China. And because you can’t talk about China’s problems freely in China, the country’s problems go way beyond any of the USA’s problems. So please stop making yourself look so dumb.
As for the markets, yes, they are dirty as hell. Unhealthy. As are business deals, government, the environment, pretty much everything. Authorities turn their eyes away when it is convenient to focus all their energy on stamping out dissent or arresting intellectuals who propose a more open system. It’s all dirty, all of it, and I wish something could be done.
But you, you and example, just want to turn your eyes away from all of this and talk to me about Rosa Parks? Please… that’s some real shit, but it’s what I have come to expect. Anyway, next time choose a better example of American problems, because I can be sure Ms. Parks, as well as all African-Americans, would not be very happy with you using Ms. Parks for the defense of China’s dirt and its fascist system.

October 10, 2004 @ 8:15 pm | Comment


Unless your Japanese or at least part Japanese, I take offense at you using a Japanese name. It’s out of context and degrading.

Peta’s vegan agenda is very simply, TO CONVERT EVERYBODY TO BEING VEGANS. I was in Europe many years ago when they handed out feux tradig cards to school children telling that milk would make them fat, spotty and covered in nasal mukas. They are not on the same wavelength as civilised people.

Peta simply want to abolish the use of animals for everything, including agriculture, and they don’t think about how cutting out meat without otherwise modifying your diet to replace the lost vitimins etc, might harm teenaged girls, who are their prime recruits. Veganism is OK, as long as you understand about the vitemins etc that you have to replace when you cut out meat.

On topic though

Chinese people are never encouraged to think further on anything. They are fed a docterine of follow what Beijing says, and little more. People who think broadly might think something that goes against what Beijing said.

The people don’t think beyond themselves and are usually ignorant of the wider consiquences of damaging a species or the ecosystem.

Time and again I’ve heard people in China reading from the same script on many issues, even if it is blatently inacurate or shortsighted. They simply don’t question what is said, and they don’t think about how the ripples of one thing interact with whatever they hit.

October 10, 2004 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

Great comments, guys. I don’t think momo will be showing up again — he’s toast.

October 10, 2004 @ 9:22 pm | Comment

i think it is disgusting how you can keep animals in cages like that and kill them. How would you like to be in a cage all day then killed just for the fur you DISGUST ME you piss takers

June 20, 2006 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

i think it is disgusting how you can keep animals in cages like that and kill them. How would you like to be in a cage all day then killed just for the fur you DISGUST ME you **** takers

June 20, 2006 @ 1:09 pm | Comment

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