A member of the University of Hong Kong's team of microbiologists which detected the Sars virus in civet cats says Guangdong is making a mistake by lifting a ban on the trade in wild animals. Forestry officials in Guangdong on Thursday decided to lift the ban on trade and transportation of more than 40 wild animals, including the civet cat. The mainland imposed the ban in May after the university research team and the Shenzhen Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that civet cats harboured the coronavirus, similar to one that caused Sars. A spokesman for the Guangdong Forestry Department said the State Forest Administration believed the civet cat did not carry the coronavirus which was believed to cause Sars. But Guan Yi, associate professor at the university's department of microbiologist, said yesterday: 'I do not know why they made that kind of decision. I think it is a mistake.' He said the teams were continuing with their work to try to find the exact animal source of the Sars virus. Danuta Skowronski, a respiratory disease expert at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, believes Sars is here to stay. 'The question I keep asking is: name another infectious disease that has established such a foothold in the human population? We're talking 30 countries, thousands of cases, several hundred deaths that we've been able to drive back to nature,' she told the Canadian press yesterday. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Guangzhou Centre for Public Opinion Research showed that nearly 90 per cent of Guangdong residents support legislation banning the consumption of some wildlife species, while one third were in favour of a total ban. The Guangzhou Centre for Public Opinion Research recorded 88.8 per cent support for a selective ban on wildlife consumption after interviewing 4,036 people in 11 cities across the province in the past week, said He Meihua, a spokeswoman of the centre, which specialises in public opinion studies. Only 5 per cent of the interviewees voiced their opposition to this wide-spread habit in the pro- vince. The poll found more than half of Guangdong residents had eaten wild animals. Snake meat was the favourite, with 44.9 per cent having tasted it. Those who supported a partial ban gave varied reasons for their decision. 'Eating of animals that are not harmful to health should be allowed', 'an absolute ban won't work' and 'it's a pity not to eat some animal meat' were some of them.