China: Notorious Yulin Dog Meat Festival returns
Graphic content: More than 10,000 dogs eaten during event
The Yulin “Lychee and Dog Meat” festival is an annual 10 day event, that takes place between 21st June – 30th June, where over 10,000 dogs are eaten. Cat meat, fresh lychees and liquor are also available at the festival.
The event in this remote part of southern China has proved to be very controversial in recent years, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first festival took place in 2009 to mark the summer solstice. Dog eating is traditional in China, and according to folklore eating the meat during the summer months brings luck and good health. Some also believe dog meat can ward off diseases and heighten men’s sexual performance.
China’s notorious dog meat festival has opened in defiance of a government campaign to improve animal welfare and reduce risks to health highlighted by the coronavirus outbreak but activists are hopeful its days are numbered.
The government is drawing up new laws to prohibit the wildlife trade and protect pets, and campaigners are hoping that this year will be the last time the festival is held.
“I do hope Yulin will change not only for the sake of the animals but also for the health and safety of its people,” said Peter Li, a China policy specialist with Humane Society International, an animal rights group.
The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in horseshoe bats before crossing into humans in a market in the city of Wuhan, has forced China to reassess its relationship with animals, and it has vowed to ban the wildlife trade.
In April, Shenzhen became the first city in China to ban the consumption of dogs, with others expected to follow.
The agriculture ministry also decided to classify dogs as pets rather than livestock, though it remains unclear how the reclassification will affect Yulin’s trade.
Zhang Qianqian, an animal rights activist who was in Yulin on Saturday, said it was only a matter of time before the dog-meat festival was banned.
“From what we understand from our conversations with meat sellers, leaders have said the consumption of dog meat won’t be allowed in future,” she said.
“But banning dog meat consumption is going to be hard and will take some time.”