China: Failure to End the Slaughter of Migratory Birds

The migratory bird season has come in China; yet instead of searching for food in the warm lake areas, a large number of birds are being slaughtered for human consumption. Every year, according to Hunan province's local news, more than 150 tonnes of wild birds are caught in certain villages in Hunan.

This year the annual slaughter began in September. The problem was exposed in a documentary, The Slaughter of Migratory Bird in their Seasonal Journey (鳥之殤,千年鳥道上的大屠殺), which has been widely circulated online and has thus put pressure on the State Forestry Administration (SFA) to act. An emergency notice was issued on October 22, 2012, which urged the Hunan authorities to investigate and penalize the illegal killing and business exploitation of wild birds.

The documentary shows the particulars of the bird hunting business in Hunan province. The hunters can catch up to three tonnes of wild birds in just one night. The birds are then either sold in local markets or transported outside the province [zh]:

Unlike other Western countries, the habit of eating wild birds and animals in China has not changed with industrialization and modernization as civic activities such as environmental and animal rights advocacy are repressed. Instead, the development of modern hunting tools has resulted in the large-scale slaughtering of wild birds and the incorporation of wild birds into local restaurant cuisine.

To counter such food culture and market demand, both grassroots authorities and concerned citizens are urging people to stop consuming wild birds [zh]:

Say No to Wild Bird Consumption. A poster uploaded by Jiangning police online on Weibo.

Say No to Wild Bird Consumption. A poster uploaded by Jiangning police online on Weibo.


Jiangning police online: Micro-advocacy: Recently some illegal hunters have become engaged in illegal hunting activities by setting up nets or laying down poison in warm lake areas, killing a large number of precious migratory birds. If there is no business, there will be no killing. The police are urging everyone to stop eating wild birds. Report any hunting and business activities related to the killing of wild birds to the police and forestry authorities.


History on the way: I was having dinner at a friend's place and there were barbecued birds on the dinner table. The hostess said they were seasonal. Everyone was saying that the birds tasted great. Obviously, the birds were slaughtered migratory birds. I did not wield my chopsticks to express my stance. I know it is very difficult to persuade others not to eat wild animals.


Quanjing: Never eat [wild birds]! Perhaps a more selfish reason can persuade you: wild birds do not have veterinary certificates, meaning they may be carrying viruses such as bird flu. It is very dangerous to eat wild birds.


Xu Jianyu: Our ancestors have already domesticated the best birds- chicken, duck and goose- for our consumption. Please give wildlife a chance to live. Please stop eating wild birds.

Despite the online call to arms, ordinary netizens are still talking about the pleasure of eating wild birds in social media:


Crazy Mother Tao: Father has two wild birds. It took him three hours to deliver one to his grandchildren. He also knows that I sometimes have headaches and has bought me 2 kilos of walnuts. My love for my parents is so deep. How can I return their love?


Little orange: Eat birds! Wild birds taste much better than domesticated birds.

It takes a long time to change food culture and the problem obviously lies with the law enforcement carried out by government authorities:


Deng fei: #A letter from Guangzhou#. Without consumption, there will be no hunting. A regular wild bird consumer said that the main consumers of rice birds in Guangzhou are not ordinary citizens but government officials. When the season comes, all the government departments dine out and have bird feasts. The protection of wild birds should begin with the government. Most of the rice birds consumed in Guangzhou are not caught locally but are transported by air from Tianjin.


onlyyouli11: Many years ago, similar reports about the slaughter of birds around the Poyang Lake district appeared on Central Television's feature programme. All precious migratory birds, including swans, have become expensive dishes served at dinner tables belonging to tourists and rich people. Such business is creating wealth. Wild birds are being slaughtered; the forestry officers are just there for decoration. I remember the report well as I was very sad to see all these things. After all these years, the situation remains the same.

1 comment

  • leaf. Ya

    Is there a point to end the slaughter of wild birds?
    How can people justify their action of mass producing meat for consumption, which is in no way more morally correct than killing undomesticated animals.
    The cause this article supports is limited this way.

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