Born Free, as part of the End Wildlife Crime (EWC) initiative, is calling for changes to the text of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to allow for the inclusion of public and animal health criteria in its decision-making processes.
The call is part of an innovative ‘One Health’ approach to reforming wildlife trade laws to help avoid future devastating wildlife-related pandemics. Current wildlife trade laws do not take into account public or animal health considerations.
Will Travers OBE, Born Free’s Executive President & Co-Founder, and EWC Steering Group member, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has brought home just how vulnerable we all are as a result of our dysfunctional and destructive relationship with wildlife and the natural world. Transformative changes are clearly needed, and CITES, the global wildlife trade regulator with its 183 member countries, existing structures and compliance mechanisms, has the critical mass to play a vitally important role.”
In a briefing paper released today, EWC warns CITES that to prevent the next wildlife-related pandemic, we must expand efforts to end illegal wildlife trade. Where wildlife trade threatens human and animal health, we need to stop that trade, close wildlife markets and stem consumption.
John E Scanlon AO, Chair of EWC, added: “No organisation on its own can address the multiple threats that could lead to the emergence of new wildlife-related diseases, or the spread of older diseases, with potential catastrophic consequences for economies, people and wildlife. We must take a collaborative global approach to wildlife trade, one that brings together animal, human and environmental health – a ‘One Health’ approach – and embed it into the international legal framework if we want give ourselves the best chance of averting future wildlife-related pandemics.”