Via the South China Morning Post: Black market for live chickens thrives in China despite bird flu bans. Excerpt:
Guangdong housewife Zhang Yi makes no compromises on the quality of chicken for her Sunday family feasts.
Once a week, Zhang scours the narrow alleyways near the Wancongyuan wet market in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.
The market has four poultry stalls but she disregards them all because she, like many other cooks in the city, is a diehard devotee of freshly slaughtered chicken – something that even the deadly H7N9 bird flu outbreak has failed to dampen.
Freshly slaughtered chicken has been off the official menu in downtown Guangzhou for more than a year but Zhang combs the alleys looking for signs of black market poultry on offer. One signal could be a temporary boiler set up on a quiet side street.
“These mobile vendors are always on the move. They don’t stay in the same spot to avoid being caught,” Zhang said.
“Some operate from a van so they can drive away the moment inspectors turn up.”
Guangzhou introduced a five-year live poultry ban in 2015, with the restrictions applying to various downtown districts, including Yuexiu and parts of Haizhu, Tianhe, Baiyun and Liwan.
Under the ban, wet market vendors are only allowed to sell chilled chickens killed at a central slaughterhouse – a deeply unappetising prospect for the city’s “Lao Guang”, or long-time residents.
The poultry trade has also been banned at wet markets citywide for cleaning between the 16th and 18th days of January, February and March.
The aim of the bans is to contain the spread of bird flu. Since January, the H7N9 strain of the virus has killed at least 94 people across the country – the highest death toll since the first known case of human infection in 2013.