Ebola – Time To Get Strategic

The terrible news about the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa rolls on and on. Fear, ignorance, lack of medical facilities, together with a degree of superstition, have turned a calamity into a crisis.

I can only feel immense shock and deep sorrow for the people affected and their families, and I worry for my friends in that part of the world.

Now, it seems, we must also worry about Ebola nearer to home. International travel means not only that people can circumnavigate the globe in a couple of days but so can the illnesses they may harbour.

Now factor in the prospect of illegal bushmeat (the meat of wild animals), smuggled out of Africa, potentially bringing this deadly disease to our shores.

What’s to be done?

As Born Free commented to the national press just a few days ago, improved law enforcement at our borders, stricter penalties for smuggling illegal wild animal meat products, better record keeping and a longterm commitment to the the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (currently only funded up to 2016) may all be a part of the solution.

Equally important, however, should be our efforts to assist the countries where the problem originates. Medical support in remote areas and investment in long-term poverty relief, using some of the UK’s £11 billion annual overseas development budget, are vital.

But to be really effective we need to be strategic. The UK Government has already taking a global lead in seeking to tackle the scourge of the illegal wildlife trade. Now we need to raise our game and fund technical training for border and customs officials in developing countries and invest resources to try and prevent bushmeat products leaving their country of origin in the first place.

It’s also essential that we engage more intensively with leaders of communities, whether in Africa or here in the UK – for whom bushmeat may be a traditional or prestige food – to explain the risks and to encourage them to alert their respective communities.

We simply must try and reduce the danger by ending the demand for bushmeat -  potentially saving many innocent human lives and, in the process, sparing the lives of many wild animals as well!

Blogging off.


P.S. Please donate to LAGA to help combat the bush meat trade.

7 Responses to “Ebola – Time To Get Strategic”

  1. Dr Marion GARAI Says:

    I fully support your efforts on curbing the bushmeat trade.However it was very sobering to see a TV rpogramme the other day that locals in the affected ebola areas refuse to believe ebola stems from bushmeat and they refuse, even if true, to stop eating bushmeat. They were showing a lady frying a duiker and a moneky over a fire. Getting the message to those people will be very very difficult.
    kind regards
    Dr Marion Garai

  2. Habte J Says:

    The issue of bush meat trade as a cheap alternative to the soaring livestock meat is taking base even in such conservative countries like Ethiopia. My worry was not shared by many as I petitioned at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/351/977/009/

    Awareness creation should take place at grass root levels. Even though Ebola is not found in Ethiopia, yet, awareness creation should start, if not too late by now.

  3. Pat Milligan Says:

    Good Morning, Will,

    I agree with you that stricter border controls are needed and penalties should be improved for smuggling bushmeat into UK, including immediate deportation, but as to improving things in the countries concerned I am against just handing over vast sums of money without stricter controls as it very often ends up in the hands of the leaders of those countries and does not get to the people who need it most.

  4. Linda Jennings Says:

    Hi Will,

    It is quite worrying regarding this issue of Bushmeat travelling. Iam deeply concerned as summer holidays end and many visitors to uk return with heavily laden suitcases from many ways apart from Border controls. Ebola is a very scary disease and affects everyone and WHO AND OUR GOVERNMENT NEED TO BE MORE ALERT TO THIS ISSUE AND STOP BEING BLAISA.

  5. Habte J Says:

    Boarder controls many not suffice. Policies and police controls have seldom solved such problems around the world. The only solution is cooperating scientists around the world to talk openly what is happening in each country and the severity of cases.

  6. Angela Moore Says:

    Humans are destroying the world in the mistaken belief that you have to eat meat to be healthy. A concept that is very western. Is it to late to turn this belief around and educated people in all parts of the world, that eating just fruits, vegetables and grain would result in a much healthier life? So much more food could be produced if the land given up to cattle etc. for feed was made to produce plant food. We should all learn something from this awful outbreak of Ebola. We must all learn to respect all other animals on this planet.

  7. Penny Mason Says:

    Hi Will, I admire and support Born Free’s committment; it just shows what can be achieved by individuals who stand together, despite the odds. I think the fight is against ruthless, unethical people who seek self enrichment at any cost; they have no respect for nature as a whole, yet will greedily + heartlessly benefit from it, using the poor and uneducated to do their “dirty work.” People (individuals + corporations) who disrespect nature, have no respect either for their own kind, and are the biggest danger to this planet as they plunder our natural resources to extinction. The biggest allied force for change is the man on the ground and giving them a reason to conserve + protect; the pie is only so big, so the sooner they are taught to love + respect what feeds, houses and protects them, there will be a greater understanding that our riches and quality of life lie in the good that man can do with what nature has provided freely. Strong, ethical leadership is what is needed to lay the strict ground rules of responsible + moral behaviour for the benefit of all, with strict penalties for any breach of conduct that jeopardises the sanctity of our communal life in terms of our natural treasures; the environment and wildlife. Thank you for striving to highlight the issues, save and educate the innocents. xxx