WWF Statement in support of China’s temporary ban on wild animal trade over suspected link to Coronavirus

Posted on January, 28 2020

We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives through the Coronavirus outbreak and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones, or who are sick. The Chinese National Forest & Grassland Administration (NFGA) has recently deployed a series of epidemic prevention and control measures. And we welcome the announcement by the NFGA and relevant departments in China to implement a strict ban on all wildlife trade and check all wildlife breeding and utilization permits. China’s decision to place a temporary ban on all wild animal trade underscores the need for greater public awareness about not just any associated threats to human health posed by illegal or unregulated wildlife trade, but also its impact on wild populations and on global biodiversity.
We appreciate the immediate action taken by China’s law enforcement agencies at various levels to close wildlife markets in the wake of the outbreak of the new coronavirus suspected to have originated from Wuhan, and its efforts in recent years to crack down on illegal wildlife trade. While closing wildlife markets could have a major impact, bans alone will not stop the illegal wildlife trade if demand persists. This health crisis must serve as a wake-up call for the need to end unsustainable use of endangered animals and their parts, as exotic pets, for food consumption and for their perceived medicinal value.
WWF encourages the Chinese government to continue its efforts to reduce demand for wildlife, raise public awareness and work with other governments, conservation organisations, the private sector and local communities to end the illegal wildlife trade. WWF stands ready to provide technical support for monitoring illegal wildlife trade and to help build law enforcement capacity to assist the effective closure of wildlife markets.