The first SARS virus of 2002 is described here...


SARS-CoV-1 passed through “live wild mammals in a retail market” in China.

A source from 2003 published in the journal Science: 302 pp. 276--278 (5643) is reproduced here...


Subsequent investigation identifies the “masked palm civit” as a specific source in markets and “horseshoe bats (Rhinolo-phus sinicus) in a county of Yunnan Province, China” as an upstream source.

A source from 2018...


Media have occasionally reported that the Communist Party of China (CPC) banned live wild animal trade sometime since the first SARS virus became a human health problem.

Where are the relevant texts (preferrably translated to English) of the policy or law of the ban and the lifting of the ban, if in fact it was lifted, and what are the dates the rules came into effect?

Aside... COVID-19 is a tag on this post because the earlier ban could have helped prevent COVID-19.


1 Answer 1


For what's worth it, the 2003 ban was short lived. It was lifted the same year:


China has lifted its four-month ban on trade in an animal suspected of spreading severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The move to put masked-palm civets back on the country’s menus has surprised the World Health Organization. With a team of Chinese researchers, the WHO found a coronavirus similar to the SARS virus in civets sold in Guangdong Province, near Hong Kong, earlier this year.

But China’s forestry administration, with experts from various ministries, found no scientific evidence to corroborate the finding. The government’s decision to allow trade in farmed civets and 53 other banned species will relieve many market traders who lobbied against the ban.

OTOH, that's not quite the whole story, they culled civets and some other wildlife in one province in Jan 2004, and later that year (November) there was a more focused ban:

The country's health department issued the new rules on Monday, a week after a government report said 70 per cent of civets tested in the southern province of Guangdong were carrying the virus believed to cause SARS.

The new rules "prohibit the slaughter, cooking and selling of wild animals like civet cat" and are meant to promote and "advocate civilized dietary habits," said the Beijing Daily.

By 2007 one could still find civets on the menu in some places, but at least health inspectors were looking out for that, at least sometimes...

“Civet cats are forbidden, and sanitation is an important issue. Most live animals are sold on the city’s outskirts. You can see it’s more of a normal market now.” [...]

Although Guangdong authorities culled thousands of civets in January 2004, investigators recently found the animals, as well as badgers and pangolins, on the black market and in Guangdong’s “wild flavour” restaurants, where diners hope exotic meats will bring good fortune.

Health inspectors found 14 frozen and one live civet cat, and 22 kilograms of civet cat meat from 18 animals in a sweep of restaurants across the province, the People’s Daily newspaper reported earlier this year.

  • I've managed to find the China Daily report from 2004, but it doesn't contain anything like a ref to some official document, so IDK where to look up further. Probably a speaker of Chinese is needed from here on. Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 13:48

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