Investigating Vietnam’s Ornamental Bird Trade: Implications for Transmission of Zoonoses


Global wildlife trade is financially lucrative, frequently illegal and increases the risk for zoonotic disease transmission. This paper presents the first interdisciplinary study of Vietnam’s illegal wild bird trade focussing on those aspects which may contribute to the transmission of diseases such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1. Comparing January 2009 data with that of May 2007, we found a five-fold increase to 9,117 birds on sale in Hanoi. Ninety-five percent of Hanoian bird vendors appear unaware of trade regulations and across Vietnam vendors buy birds sourced outside of their province. Approximately 25% of the species common to Vietnam’s bird trade are known to be HPAI H5N1 susceptible. The anthropogenic movement of birds within the trade chain and the range of HPAI-susceptible species, often traded alongside poultry, increase the risk Vietnam’s bird trade presents for the transmission of pathogens such as HPAI H5N1. These results will assist in the control and monitoring of emerging zoonotic diseases and conservation of Southeast Asia’s avifauna.

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The authors thank the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Newquay Zoo Environmental Park for financial support. KE was funded by ESRC/NERC studentship ES/F009925/1. We also thank the Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies in Hanoi for providing logistical support.

Author information

Correspondence to Kelly Edmunds.


Appendix 1

See Table 2.

Table 2 The Number of Individuals for the 68 Species Recorded During Surveys of Wild Bird Markets Across Vietnam.

Appendix 2: An example of the questions asked to ornamental bird vendors during a survey of Vietnam’s ornamental bird trade in 2009

Market Interviews

Interview date: Market: Shop #:

Interviewee age: Gender:


  1. 1.

    How long have you been selling live birds?

  2. 2.

    Which are the five most popular species? Does this change throughout the year?

  3. 3.

    Why are these species preferred?

  4. 4.

    Which species are the most profitable? Is this always the same?

  5. 5.

    What are the main reasons why people buy birds?

  6. 6.

    Is there a large supply of birds for you to buy for your shop?

  7. 7.

    Do you breed any birds yourself?

  8. 8.

    Where do the birds you sell come from? Are they from close to the city or another province?

  9. 9.

    Are the birds you sell captive-bred (farmed) or wild-caught?

  10. 10.

    Is selling birds your household’s primary source of income?

  11. 11.

    How is the trade in birds now compared to other years?

  12. 12.

    When there is little demand for birds, how do you replace the lost income?

  13. 13.

    Have you ever had to stop selling birds? Why?

  14. 14.

    Are there any shops which used to sell birds but no longer do? Do you know why they stopped selling birds? What do they now sell?

  15. 15.

    Have there been any confiscations of birds from this market? Who by? What did they confiscate? When? Why?

  16. 16.

    Have the health department bought any of your birds?

  17. 17.

    How has your business been affected by bird flu?

  18. 18.

    How long did bird flu affect your business?

  19. 19.

    Do you perceive yourself to be at risk from bird flu?

  20. 20.

    Do you take any precautions to prevent the transmission of bird flu to yourself or your birds?

  21. 21.

    Are there any regulations regarding the birds which you can sell? Are any species restricted/prohibited to sell?

  22. 22.

    Were there any laws introduced to try and control bird flu?

  23. 23.

    Do any of your customers buy birds to take overseas?

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Edmunds, K., Roberton, S.I., Few, R. et al. Investigating Vietnam’s Ornamental Bird Trade: Implications for Transmission of Zoonoses. EcoHealth 8, 63–75 (2011).

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  • bird trade
  • wildlife trade
  • Vietnam
  • H5N1
  • zoonotic disease