Animal rights groups have welcomed a ban on eating cats and dogs in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen but say more should be done to enforce the laws and close loopholes. Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, will ban all wildlife consumption from May 1. The restriction includes animals raised as pets, making it the first Chinese city to ban the eating of cats and dogs . The new law applies to all wild-caught and captive-bred wild land animals, as well as animals that are raised for display, laboratory research and as pets, according to the regulation passed on March 31. On the list approved for consumption are pigs, cattle, goats, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons and quail. People are allowed to eat other livestock and poultry raised for the purpose of consumption. The eating of aquatic animals is not banned under the new rule. The authorities will compensate business owners who breed and raise animals for losses caused by the new law. The Shenzhen move was dubbed “the strictest in history” by Chinese state media. Consumers of protected wildlife will be fined five to 30 times the value of the animals, while businesses owners will be fined three to 10 times their illicit income. The illegal acts will be recorded on China’s social credit system. A game menu from a shop in the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Whoesale Market lists wildlife products, such as a live scorpion (500 yuan/head), live wolf cub (20 yuan/head), crocodile tongue (35 yuan each), camel hump (20 yuan each) and deer penis (400 yuan each). Beijing had previously banned wildlife trade and consumption in late February in response to the Covid-19 epidemic linked to a wildlife market in Wuhan. The market sold live animals and was found to have helped the spread of the virus . The new coronavirus has infected more than 1.3 million people around the globe. Animal rights groups believe, or at least hope, the Shenzhen ban will start a domino effect in other cities. “[We believe] the ban will lead the national trend against the consumption of dogs and cats across China,” a spokesman for PETA Asia said. “Animal-borne viruses won't just magically go away. The easiest way to help prevent full-blown epidemics is to avoid meat and other animal-derived foods like the plague.” However, the next challenge would be to enforce those rules and close loopholes in the national ban, animal rights activists said. “No legal ban is effective unless there is also strict enforcement,” said animal welfare lawyer Amanda Whitfort. “It remains to be seen how effective enforcement will be in regard to this new ban on domestic animal eating but given the importance of the new wildlife consumption ban in controlling the spread of zoonotic diseases, authorities are taking stronger action than has been seen before.” The national ban does not cover aquatic animals, livestock, poultry and other animals that have long been bred in China. Use of wild animals for scientific and medical purposes may continue although management of such facilities will be strengthened. “These loopholes are pretty significant and could be used to maintain some level of wildlife trade, which then maintains the preconditions for the emergence of another disease,” said David Olson, director of conservation at WWF-Hong Kong. Olson said the Chinese government needed to end the sale of wildlife in wet markets, warehouses and on the internet to significantly reduce the risk of future pandemics, citing diseases that originated from wildlife, such as Sars, Ebola, Mers and bird flu. China has a long history of trading and consuming wildlife for use in traditional medicine, fur and food. Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.