Background: It is argued that wild animals are the culprit of transmission of COVID-19 and poor health of the people, though any evidence is not found, the government has widely publicized the risk allied with eating wild animals. Therefore, this study attempts to explore the effect of COVID-19 on residents’ willingness to consume wild animals (WCWA) and their amount of willingness to pay (AWP).
Methods: Data were gathered online from 1250 household heads of both urban and rural residents of Hubei, Hunan, and Guangdong provinces during the period of 19th to 26th March 2020 and Probit and Tobit model is employed to meet the study objectives.
Results: The results showed that around 39.20% of residents are willing to consume wild animals and their amount of willingness to pay was 34.65 USD/year. In the context of market control policy & home restriction policy, the mediating effect is 34.20% & 27.73% respectively. In contrast, in the context of ecological environment risk and food security risk perception, the mediating effects are 7.94% and 10.16% respectively.
Conclusions: Although COVID-19 reduced the probability of residents’ WCWA, the effect on AWP was not significant. Moreover, COVID-19’s effects on residents’ WCWA through market control and home restriction policies were strong, but perceptions of the ecological environment and food safety risk were relatively weak. These results provide insights for policymakers in terms of raising public awareness of the negative consequences of consuming wild animals and increasing knowledge of the animals’ protection.