Why do we need a wildlife consumption ban in China?

Lingyun Xiao, Zhi Lu*, Xueyang Li, Xiang Zhao, Binbin V. Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic is an alarm call to all on the risks of zoonotic diseases and the delicate relationship between nature and human health. In response, China has taken a proactive step by issuing a legal decision to ban consumption of terrestrial wildlife. However, concerns have been raised and opponents of bans argue that well-regulated trade should be promoted instead. By analyzing China's legal framework and management system regulating wildlife trade, together with state and provincial-level wildlife-trade licenses and wildlife criminal cases, we argue that current wildlife trade regulations do not function as expected. This is due to outdated protected species lists, insufficient cross-sector collaboration, and weak restrictions and law enforcement on farming and trading of species. The lack of quarantine standards for wildlife and increased wildlife farming in recent years pose great risks for food safety and public health. In addition, wildlife consumption is neither required for subsistence nor an essential part of Chinese diets. All these facts make the ban necessary to provoke improvement in wildlife management, such as updating protected species lists, revising laws and changing consumption behaviors. Nonetheless, the ban is not sufficient to address all the problems. To sustain the efficacy of the change, we propose that a long-term mechanism to reduce the demand and improve effective management is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R168-R172
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021


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