The COVID-19 response and wild meat: a call for local context

By Stephanie Brittain, Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, University of Oxford

Originally published on the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Covid-19 is one of several such viruses that have made the jump from animals to humans. So far, the evidence suggests that the virus was first transmitted to humans at a seafood market in Wuhan, China. The Wuhan seafood market also sold wildlife, but despite extensive experimental work, scientists are still not confident about the transmission chain from animal to human, with links drawn to snakes, bats and, more recently, pangolins. What is clear, however, is that there is now unprecedented global attention focused on wild meat trade and consumption globally.

The ongoing covid-19 crisis may be the first time many people have heard of wild meat, or “bushmeat” as it’s commonly known. Wild meat is meat from wildlife species that are hunted for human consumption. It constitutes a primary source of protein for many rural communities globally, particularly in tropical forests, where it contributes to the food security of millions of people globally.  Across Central Africa, species hunted in rural areas are also sent to cities and large towns to satisfy the growing urban demand for wild meat. There, wild meat caters to both the growing number of upper-middle class customers who wish to consume high-value and sometimes rare species as a status symbol, as well as the urban poor who consume small species such as rodents which are often still less expensive than farmed animals. The drivers and impacts of hunting and consumption of wild meat are not homogenous, and should not be treated as such.

The impact of wild meat trade bans on people and conservation

In recognition of the importance of wild meat for food security and livelihoods, global conservation policy has focused on the need for sustainable use of species hunted for wild meat, and many experts agree that using wild species sustainably may still be the best way to save them. Yet, following the covid-19 outbreak, we are seeing a growing number of calls to ban the trade and consumption of wildlife globally.

The covid-19 outbreak has shown us that there is clearly a need to readdress our balance with nature. But, what lessons can we learn from past attempts at banning wild meat, and what are the possible realities for both conservation and for those who depend on wild meat for food and income?

  • While some of the proposed bans recognize the important role that wild meat plays for the food security and nutrition of indigenous peoples and local communities globally, wild meat also constitutes an important financial backstop across Africa, in particular during low seasons or when agricultural commodity prices fluctuate. The Ebola crisis and subsequent ban on the trade of wild meat markets across West and Central Africa resulted in unemployment for thousands of women, the primary traders of wild meat. The potentially unequal effects such bans could have on the financial security of different groups of people must be properly considered. Livelihood alternatives must be co-designed and led by those who will be affected in order to mitigate such effects and ensure alternatives are locally relevant.

    Women at the Moutuka Nunene bushmeat market in Lukolela, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Women at the Moutuka Nunene bushmeat market in Lukolela, Democratic Republic of Congo.  Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

  • If alternative sources of food and income are not provided for those who need it, bans on wild meat trade and consumption could result in malnutrition among the young and most vulnerable, or push the trade of wild meat underground and worsen contributing factors to the spread of disease. Following the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak, a universal ban on wild meat markets was imposed across West Africa. Rather than being enforced, it pushed many wild meat markets underground, rendering regulation more complex and worsening food hygiene conditions, a key driver of disease spread. Further, past attempts to limit wild meat sales in Equatorial Guinea, were only transiently effective as the hunting ban was again not enforced and was quickly followed by a marked increase in wild meat hunting compared to hunting rates prior to the ban.  Poorly considered bans resulted in the erosion of food security and health and unintended consequences for conservation, ending in calls for a more nuanced understanding of how future spillovers could be prevented.
  • There is a common assumption that people in rural areas eat wild meat because they have no other alternatives. The Darwin Initiative project “Why Eat Wild Meat”, looks to understand individual level differences in wild meat preferences, hunting, and consumption and the reasons for doing so, in rural villages in southeastern Cameroon. The project is finding that yes, people eat wild meat because it is readily available to them, but also, and more importantly, because they like the taste. As such, it’s important that conservationists keen to devise protein alternative projects first understand why people eat and hunt wild meat. Alternatives are best when locally conceived, and when projects are co-designed, to ensure that subsequent alternatives meet local needs and have longevity.
  • It is also often assumed that livestock or poultry present culturally viable alternatives to wild meat. However, the “Why Eat Wild Meat” study identified greater concerns by some local people in rural Cameroon over the health of domestic animals than they did over many species hunted for wild meat. This is due in part to several outbreaks of disease relating to domestic animals, including most recently avian influenza, and personal experiences of livestock or poultry falling ill. Additionally, animals such as chickens and goats are kept for sale or for large celebrations in these villages, and are not routinely consumed for subsistence purposes. As such, encouraging a shift away from hunting and towards a dependence on livestock and poultry would require a deep cultural shift for some rural communities.
  • The impact of a shift to livestock or poultry raises concerns for many conservationists about deforestation; researchers estimate that if livestock such as cattle were to replace wild meat in the Congo Basin, 25 million hectares of forest would be converted to pastureland. Realistically, pigs or chickens would be seen as more viable replacements to wild meat, but again this would require an estimated additional 4.5 million tons of pigs or chickens, again unlikely to happen any time soon in the Congo Basin. We must consider the potential adverse impacts that calling for a shift to livestock could have, and whether such calls are realistic in the timeframe required.


Deforestation: A bird’s eye view shows the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil.  Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR

We need local understanding

Much of the recent work on wild meat and disease has focussed on the international convention scale. If we are to change behaviours to protect against the emergence of further zoonotic diseases and encourage a shift away from any unsustainable or illegal behaviours, we must also have a local understanding of why people make the choices they do, as well as the pathways of trade and transmission, to help ensure that policy changes regarding wild meat are driven by evidence, and that subsequent actions are locally relevant and realistic.  As the “Why Eat Wild Meat” project is discovering, the reasons behind wild meat hunting and consumption, the types of biodiversity involved in trade and the pathways for disease transition are complex and varied. So then, should be the proposed effective ways to tackle the spread of new diseases such as covid-19.

Discussions on whether and how bans on the wild meat trade should occur will surely continue over the coming months. Dialogue between wildlife trade specialists, virologists, conservationists and public health experts are needed to assess the likely impact of policy responses for people and for nature and to try to fill existing knowledge gaps.  In the mean time, wild meat remains a vital source of protein and income for millions in rural areas, and banning trade will not be a silver bullet solution to the challenges raised by this virus. Rather, bans risk oversimplifying the reality of covid-19 and other coronaviruses that are sure to emerge in future, diverting attention away from the greater challenges, such as poverty, a lack of locally and culturally relevant and viable alternatives, and the external forces that incentivize people in rural areas to hunt to meet the additional demand.


A woman prepares duiker meat with chili sauce

A woman prepares duiker meat with chili sauce in Cameroon. Photo: Stephanie Brittain

We must learn from previous crisis responses to climate shocks, disease outbreaks and humanitarian disasters, where hurried response interventions led maladaptation and further damages to lives, livelihoods, and the environment. We need greater efforts to understand these local contexts and drivers of wild meat hunting and consumption, if we are to change patterns of use.

[With thanks to Emilie Beauchamp and EJ Milner-Gulland for their helpful inputs.]

Coronavirus: why a blanket ban on wildlife trade would not be the right response

By Dan Challender, Amy HinsleyDiogo VeríssimoMichael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, Oxford Martin Programme on Wildlife Trade

Originally published in The Conservation

The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic have been linked to a “wet” market in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of eastern China. Wet markets are common in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, selling fresh fruit and vegetables, poultry, fresh meat and live animals, including wildlife. Reports initially indicated that the coronavirus which causes COVID-19 may have been transmitted to people from wildlife at this wet market because of unsanitary conditions.

The pandemic has led to some wildlife conservation organisations to call for blanket bans on wildlife trade on public health grounds. They include bans on commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption and the closure of these markets. More extreme calls from more than 200 organisations include ending the keeping, breeding, domestication and use of all wildlife, which also covers traditional medicine.

But blanket bans are unlikely to benefit people or wildlife, and are unfeasible because they overlook the complexity of the wildlife trade. The COVID-19 outbreak should not be used opportunistically to prescribe global wildlife trade policy. A more appropriate response would be to improve wildlife trade regulation with a direct focus on human health.


A fish market in Seoul, South Korea. Rodrigo Oyanedel

Wildlife is used globally on a daily basis, from medicinal plants and edible fungi, to wild meat in EuropeNorth AmericaSouthern Africa and elsewhere. Wildlife trade enables people in many parts of the world to meet their basic needs and can provide livelihood benefits from harvesting or farming.

Despite the way it is often presented, wildlife trade involves far more than animals harvested in tropical regions and sold in China. It includes species from land, freshwater and marine habitats, including fisheries, in production systems ranging from wild harvesting to captive breeding. It takes place at local and international levels, includes legal and illegal, sustainable and unsustainable components, and is measurable in billions of dollars annually.

Bans are seldom the answer

Unquestionably, wildlife trade regulations require review in response to COVID-19 for public health reasons. However, while bans may appear to be a logical solution, their impact on public health cannot be assumed to be positive. They could also do more harm than good for biodiversity. Typically, prohibition does not deter all traders in marketplaces. This would mean that trade in some products would likely continue illegally. Traders would be motivated by financial profits, with an increased risk of trade being controlled by organised crime.

Bans may not stigmatise consumption either, especially where products are socially desirable, meaning consumer demand for many products would persist. This is a public health concern because, unregulated, such trade would likely be clandestine and, if unsanitary, could pose the risk of transmitting disease from animals to humans. Bans, especially where they remove legal supply options, such as captive breeding, could raise perceptions of scarcity, and drive up black market prices and increase incentives for poaching. This could accelerate the exploitation and extinction of species in the wild.

The outcome for wildlife economies would also be uncertain. For example, the wildlife “breeding economy” in China is estimated to involve 14 million people and be worth more than US$74 billion annually. The fate of animals under human care and the people employed in these industries would require consideration. In China, bamboo rat and badger farmers are to be compensated and given grants for new businesses following the closure of almost 3,000 farms in response to COVID-19.


Scientists have discovered a virus similar to COVID-19 in the threatened pangolin, which is heavily trafficked for its meat and scales (Shutterstock),

To be effective, bans would need to be largely in step with local social norms and well enforced. But this is unrealistic in many parts of the world where law enforcement is cripplingly under-resourced in terms of technology and manpower. Local people may also challenge the legitimacy of any bans. Requiring agencies to enforce comprehensive bans in these circumstances would most likely overwhelm them.

Even where there are strong laws and enforcement, implementation is challenging and illegal trade still occurs frequently, such as the harvesting and trafficking of the European eel in Europe. It is also unlikely that law enforcement would receive the financial investment necessary to enforce bans in the long term, due to political constraints on spending and other more urgent priorities.

Better regulated trade

Banning all wildlife trade is a knee-jerk and potentially self-defeating measure. A more appropriate response would be improving regulation of wildlife markets, especially those involving live animals. This should include full consideration of public health and animal welfare concerns to ensure there is low risk of future animal-to-human disease outbreaks.

This could be achieved by focusing on highest-risk species and improving conditions along supply chains and in markets, such as health and safety and sanitation, and regular animal health checks. These practices could draw on existing standards that apply to regulations for transporting live animals by air.

Like bans, any new or revised regulations would require enforcement. But approaches such as “smart regulation” could be used to aid the process. This could ensure that new measures are culturally appropriate and incentivise local people, traders, buyers and law enforcement agencies to comply. Devising regulations in this way would mean they are more likely to be effective, rather than undermined which a blanket ban would do.

Rushing to indiscriminately ban all wildlife trade in response to COVID-19 would not eradicate the risk of animal-to-human disease outbreaks. It could also have a severe impact on livelihoods and biodiversity. Improved regulations that focus on health, if implemented well, would avoid these effects while ensuring a low risk of future disease outbreaks.

On COVID-19, and rebalancing our relationship with nature

By Hollie Booth, Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, University of Oxford

Originally posted on the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science

2020 was supposed to be a super year for nature. Instead we got a pandemic.

Arguably, it is our strained relationship with nature that got us in to this mess. The evidence is fairly conclusive that the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 first made its way in to a human vector in a wet market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The original animal reservoir for the virus was probably bats. Available evidence suggests the virus first passed from bats to an unconfirmed intermediary host (maybe pangolins) and then from the intermediary to humans (Fig. 1), probably because someone ate the intermediary host.

Fig. 1. Socio-ecological system of food production

Fig. 1. A simplified schematic of how the socio-ecological system of food production lead to COVID-19 in humans

This zoonotic infection was therefore made possible due to two human follies: first, expanding human populations (and associated agribusiness) into undisturbed ecosystems, leading to the step 1 interface. Secondly, consumption of animals, leading to the step 2 interface. Note I use the word ‘animals’ here, since while many have been quick to point the finger at ‘wildlife trade’ and China’s ‘exotic’ eating habits, domestic animals such as poultry and livestock cannot be entirely ruled out as vectors (as they have been for previous zoonoses). Live animal markets, and inter-mingling of live animal trade with food products, likely doesn’t help.

So, what does this mean for our relationship with nature?

It reminds us how intertwined we are with nature, and how the choices we make about our food systems and broader human-nature relations can have rippling global impacts. COVID-19 evolved in the socio-ecological system of food production in China, which has undoubtedly been influenced by global market forces. It is a co-product of relentless human innovation for consumption and trade, and nature’s relentless capacity for adaption and evolution.

It reminds us that nature is not caring, kind and simply here for our benefit. In certain socio-ecological systems, nature has the capacity to be terrifying and destructive to humans, just as we can reap destruction on nature.

It reminds us how dependent we are on a habitable planet, and that the current globalised economic system is not de-coupled from nature and immutable to its impacts. Rather, our relationship with nature needs to be re-balanced. Some argue that this is sufficient justification for increasing separation of humans and nature, for example through closing wildlife markets in their entirety. Yet this fails to sufficiently acknowledge the complexity and precariousness of human-nature relations. Humans depends on wildlife for food security and livelihoods, just as some species depend, in part, on human use for their survival. This creates a false dichotomy and decoupling of ‘natural’ and ‘human’ systems, yet the two do not operate in isolation, and we are often required to trade one off against the other. As such, stopping use of wildlife would have negative impacts for nature and people. For example:

In turn, this may exacerbate risks to human health due to increased food insecurity, increased interfaces between animal agriculture and undisturbed ecosystems (more of step 1), and potential increases in illegal and unregulated wildlife trade (more of step 2).

Fig 2. Factors that increase the risk of zoonoses are complex and inter-twined

Fig. 2. The factors that increase the risk of zoonoses are complex and inter-twined, changing one aspect of our human-nature relationship will inevitably impact another. Source: UNEP.

Whether to increase regulation of wildlife markets in response to COVID-19 is an open question and requires examining the likely impact of different policies on public health, biodiversity, animal welfare and broader socio-economic issues. Moreover, it requires a critical analysis of the proximate vs. ultimate causes of zoonotic disease emergence. Other factors such as urbanization, population density, socio-economic status and agriculture play major significant roles in zoonotic disease emergence. Interestingly, while many are quick to point the finger at China’s eating habits in this instance, the majority of human infectious diseases emerged for the first time in northerly latitudes, with a hotspot in Europe. As such, regulation of wildlife markets is not a panacea for preventing emergence of zoonoses, it is one piece in the complex puzzle of our human-nature relationship (Fig. 2).

It also reminds us that while nature can be cruel, it can also provide solace during times of distress. With an estimated 2.9 billion people in some form of lockdown, we may not be able to interact with people, but at least we can find solitude in nature (at least we can in the UK, during our ‘one exercise per day’ allowance), and appreciate the simple things in life (Fig. 3). This may provide an opportunity to reconnect with our values, reflect on the sustainability of our choices, and transition towards new ways to live, work and organise the global economy.

Fig. 3. Reconnecting with nature

Fig. 3. Reconnecting with nature can help us to cope with social isolation, and reflect on what’s important

Our relationship with nature got us in to this mess, but it can also get us out of it. On an individual level, for those of us who are lucky enough to be fit and healthy, we can disconnect from the hubbub of our work lives and reconnect with ourselves and nature. On a societal level, we can learn lessons from this tragedy, to reset our relationship with nature, and find creative ways to live more happy and sustainable lives, which can benefit public health, nature and our ever inter-twined socio-ecological system.

[With thanks to Dan ChallenderMunib Kahnyari and E.J. Milner-Gulland for their helpful inputs to an earlier draft] 

China’s Announcement on Wildlife Trade – What’s New and What Does It Mean?

By Yuhan Li and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade team, University of Oxford

Originally published on the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science

A “wild” public health issue

Menu of a wild meat restaurant in the seafood market, where civet, bamboo rat and other animals were sold. Photo source: weibo

Menu of a wild meat restaurant in Wuhan Huanan seafood market, where civet, bamboo rat and other animals were sold. Photo credit: weibo

To date, COVID-19 has caused over than 2800 deaths in China and has spread to 50 countries [1,2]. The evidence currently suggests the virus was first transmitted to humans at a seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei province, as many early confirmed cases involved individuals that had contact with this market, and 93.9%(31/33) of environmental samples taken from the western region of the market were found with COVID-19 [3]. In addition to seafood, fresh meat and live wild animals were being sold and slaughtered in this market, and coronaviruses are known to jump from some species (e.g., bat, camel, civet) to people [4]. These indicate that the virus might have stemmed from wild animals on sale at the market [3]. However, the intermediate host of COVID-19 is still unclear at this stage. Following the outbreak, the market was shut down by the government on January 1st, 2020, but the consumption of wildlife in China has drawn unprecedented public attention ever since, both within China and internationally, given the severe public health implications of the outbreak.

On February 24th 2020, China’s top legislature adopted a decision to “thoroughly ban the illegal trading of wildlife and eliminate the consumption of wild animals to safeguard people’s lives and health.” The decision has binding force and it took effect on the same day as its promulgation, i.e., February 24th [5,6].

This article provides a detailed explanation of this decision and is based on discussions within the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade at the University of Oxford and consultations with Shanshui Conservation Center, based at Peking University in China.

Consumption of terrestrial wild animals for edible uses prohibited

As COVID-19 is assumed to have close links with the consumption of wild animals, the new decision prohibits the eating of terrestrial wild animals, including those that are bred or reared in captivity. Hunting, trading and transporting terrestrial wild animals for the purpose of consumption is also prohibited [6].

This is a big move. Previously, only the 402 species on the List of Wild Animals Under State Priority Conservation were banned from consumption as wild meat in China [7]. However, this list is outdated and does not correspond to the conservation status of some species [8]. Consumption of other wild terrestrial animals was permitted, subject to obtaining appropriate certificates (e.g., hunting, breeding, quarantine, trade) from the government. However, this certification system was sometimes poorly implemented. Buying a certificate and using it for “laundering” of wild-caught animals was possible [9].

Which species which are currently consumed are not included in these new measures?

Although this new ban was quickly celebrated by the media and some in the international conservation community, there are several nuances and exceptions that must be clarified.

  • Aquatic wildlife, expect these banned from edible use by the Wildlife Protection Law (2018), is exempt, because the National People’s Congress (NPC) views “fishing as a natural resource and an important agricultural product, as well as a common international practise” [5]. This means, for example, sea cucumbers and other widely consumed species will continue to be traded under the same rules as before.
  • Wild plants are not included in the ban.
  • Farmed amphibians and reptiles on the List of National Key Protected Aquatic Wild Animals for Farming and the List of National Key Protected Economic Aquatic Animals and Plants Resources, such as the giant salamander, softshell turtle and crocodile, currently can still be consumed, until new regulations from the Ministry of Agriculture are annouced[17].
  • Farmed, terrestrial animals on the List of Genetic Resource of Livestock and Poultry can now be traded for food consumption. A publicly available version of this list can be found in a report to UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, and includes various breeds of pig, chicken, duck, goose, special poultry (e.g., ostrich), cattle, sheep, goat, horse, donkey, rabbit and deer [10]. Mink and raccoon dog are also on the list, possibly due to demand for their pelts. Previously, some species not in the list could be farmed (e.g., civets and bamboo rats) but farming these species is now illegal, if they are to be consumed as food. The Chinese government plans to revise this list and the changes would impact certain species and industries.

What about non-edible uses?

The saiga horns are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Photo credit:  the Saiga Resource Centre

Saiga horns are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Photo credit:  the Saiga Resource Centre

Non-edible use of wild terrestrial animals, such as scientific research, medicinal use, and display, are still regulated by existing laws, such as the Wildlife Protection Law (2018) and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Law (2016) [5]. For example, it remains legal to use processed pangolin scales from a certificated source, or bear bile from legal farms for medical purposes, or stockpiled saiga horn. This means that a substantial number of species of conservation concern are unaffected by the ban.

What about the illegal trade?

Some wildlife trade is already illegal (e.g., tiger, ivory) in China, and the Chinese government has announced it will clamp down further on such trade with “aggravated punishment”, suggesting stronger penalties will be used for illegal wildlife trade. In the existing Criminal Law and its interpretation (2014), if the circumstances are especially serious, life imprisonment or death shall be sentenced [11].

Further details are not currently available but should become clear in forthcoming legislation. Since the rise of COVID-19, the Chinese government has investigated over 600 cases of wildlife crime [12], and hopefully, this greater focus on law enforcement will become the norm.

What about the Chinese public’s views?

"Say No to Wild Meat Consumption", a poster from Shanshui Conservation Center

“Say No to Wild Meat Consumption”, a poster from Shanshui Conservation Center

Since the outbreak of the virus, several Chinese conservation organisations have developed a questionnaire to understand public attitudes and circulated it on Chinese social media (e.g., wechat, weibo), receiving over 100,000 responses. Among the respondents, 88% resided in urban areas, 32% have seen people eating wild animals in the past year, and 96.4% said they supported a ban on consumption of all wild animals. Those against the ban believed that “the industry of some wildlife farming is very mature”, and that  “some wildlife farming can bring income.” In terms of banning all trade in wild animals, including food consumption, medicinal use and others, more than 90% of the respondents expressed a willingness to support this [13]. Whether this is a short-term attitude because of the current situation, and whether it is shared by more rural, less internet-savvy people, remains to be seen.


Winners and losers

Certain species will definitely gain from this decision, assuming that it is well enforced. These are terrestrial wild mammal species which are legal to hunt and consume, and which are currently potentially being threatened due to this consumption. Species which fall into this category include civets and bats (both of which, by the way, have been implicated in previous epidemics). Others (particularly aquatic species and those used legally in Traditional Chinese Medicine) will not benefit from this legislation. The crack-down on breaches of existing laws may also help species traded illegally. However, the markets have not been permanently closed as yet, and so the public health, animal welfare and conservation concerns which they produce are still there.

A wild civet. Photo credit to Chinese Felid Conservation Alliance

A wild civet. Photo credit to Chinese Felid Conservation Alliance

People in the farmed wild animal industry could face severe economic losses as a result of this new legislation. Previously, the farming of certain wildlife species was encouraged by the government to help alleviate poverty [14]. The wildlife farming industry is estimated to have created employment for more than 14 million people and worth over £56 billion, with pelt production (e.g., mink, raccoon dog, fox) representing 74.8% and food consumption involving species such as the giant salamander, frog and blue peacock, 24% [15]. The National People’s Congress spokesman stated that local governments should guide these farmers towards other industries and provide compensation for their losses [5]. Meanwhile, what happens to the captive-bred animals remains uncertain, with potential implications for animal welfare.

What next?

Using pangolin scales is still legal in China. Photo credit: Gregg Yan, wikimedia commons

Using pangolin scales is still legal in China. Photo credit: Gregg Yan, wikimedia commons

This decision may be just the start of a series of new pieces of legislation, which authorize provincial and city-level governments to implement their own measures. For example, one day after its promulgation, the Shenzhen government released a draft proposal for regional management, suggesting that the ban on animal consumption might extend to pet animals, such as cats and dogs [16]. The National People’s Congress also plans to revise the Wildlife Protection Law (2018) and other wildlife-related laws this year, which will have a long-term impact. These forthcoming legislative changes will need continued attention and efforts by Chinese NGOs and the public to make sure that the changes are as effective as possible.

It has taken so much human suffering to bring attention to this issue. However, the speed with which this new decision has been taken offers hope that the lessons of COVID-19 will be learned.

Special thanks to Melissa Arias, Dan Challender, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Xuesong Han, Amy Hinsley, Xilin Jiang, Zhi Lu, Xiao Mao, Jessica Philips, Michael ’t Sas-Rolfes, Terry Townshend, Lingyun Xiao, for their valuable comments and edits to this blog. 


[1]      新冠肺炎病例实时地图 Live map of COVID-19 in China. The Paper. /2020-02-28.

[2]      The world gets ready – Covid-19 is now in 50 countries, and things will get worse. The Economist. 2020/2020-02-28.

[3]      China detects large quantity of novel coronavirus at Wuhan seafood market. Xinhua. 2020/2020-02-28.

[4]      Cohen J. Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak’s origins. Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2020.

[5]      全面禁止非法野生动物交易 革除滥食野生动物陋习——全国人大常委会法工委有关部门负责人答记者问Interview with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Xinhua. 2020/2020-02-28.

[6]      China’s legislature adopts decision on banning illegal trade, consumption of wildlife. Xinhua. 2020/2020-02-25.

[7]      那些没有且无法被检疫的肉,你真的敢吃吗?Meat without quarantine certificate, you dare to eat? Shanshui Conservation Center. 2020/2020-02-25.

[8]      野生动物保护名录,一把刻度模糊的卡尺 Wild animal protection list, a ruler with blurred numbers. Shanshui Conservation Center. /2020-02-28.

[9]      养殖技术成熟,就可以开放市场了吗?Can the market be opened if farming techniques are mature? Shanshui Conservation Center. /2020-02-28.

[10]    中华人民共和国农业部 Ministry of Agriculture P R of C. 中国畜禽遗传资源状况Genetic Resource of Livestock and Poultry of China. 2003.

[11]    最高人民法院最高人民检察院关于办理走私刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释 Interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on several issues concerning the application of law in handling criminal cases of smuggling. 2014/2020-02-28.

[12]    新华时评:用法治革除吃野味的陋习 Xinhua commentary: use the rule of law to remove the bad habits of eating wild animals. Xinhua. 2020/2020-02-28.

[13]    野生动物修法调查 | 22天,10万份问卷,聊聊这些民间的声音 Survey on the revision of laws on wildlife: 22 days, 100,000 responses, voices from the public. Shanshui Conservation Center. 2020/2020-02-28.

[14]    野生动植物产业助力江西省林业精准扶贫 Wildlife industries help poverty alleviation in Jiangxi. 2018/2020-02-28.

[15]    中国工程院 Chinese Academy of Engineering. 中国野生动物养殖产业可持续发展战略研究Research on Sustainable Development Strategy of Chinese Wild Animal Farming Industry. 2017.

[16]    关于《深圳经济特区全面禁止食用野生动物条例(草案征求意见稿)》公开征求意见的公告Announcement on the public consultation on the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Regulations on the Comprehensive Ban on Eating Wild Animals (Consultation Draft). 2020/2020-02-28.

[17]    甲鱼等还能吃吗?农业农村部:将进一步明确养殖两栖爬行动物禁食范围 Can softshell turtles still be consumed? Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs: will announce further clarification on farmed reptiles and amphibians. 2020/2020-02-29.


“Saving Lives, Protecting Livelihoods, and Safeguarding Nature”: Risk-Based Wildlife Trade Policy for Sustainable Development Outcomes Post-COVID-19

COVID-19, Systemic Crisis, and Possible Implications for the Wild Meat Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa (Open Access)

Beyond banning wildlife trade: COVID-19, conservation and development

What are the origins of novel human infectious diseases like COVID-19?

Coronavirus: why a blanket ban on wildlife trade would not be the right response