Fantastic news to report. On 12th April 2021 the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), issued guidance to national authorities on reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals.
The tripartite is calling on national governments to urgently adopt the measures in order to reduce the public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals for food in traditional food markets. In particular, the guidance calls for the suspension of trade in live wild mammals for food or breeding purposes, and the closure of sections of food markets selling live wild mammals.
While restricting their specific recommendations to the trade in mammals, the organisations recognise that the guidance is also relevant for other utilizations of wild animals, and that there is a need to focus on biodiversity conservation and animal welfare, as well as human health risks, going forward.
Responding to the news, Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones said: “We very much welcome this new guidance from the WHO, OIE and UNEP, the very three organisations we first targeted as far back in March 2020 in the early stages of the Covid crisis.
"Back then we urged them to work with governments across the world, to end exploitation of wild animals for trade, close markets trading in live animals, and reduce commercial demand for live animals for food and other purposes, including from specimens that have been bred in captivity, for the sake of biodiversity, animal welfare, and human health. The guidance issued this week goes some way towards achieving those aims. While much more needs to be done, it’s good to see a recognition of the need for truly bold and decisive action if we are to halt and reverse the global decline in wildlife, while at the same time reducing the risk of future devastating pandemics. We need to see these recommendations extended to all wild species in commercial trade, for all purposes, and for all time.”
Born Free continues to work with international bodies, national governments, commercial organisations and others to bring an end to the cruel and hugely damaging exploitation of wildlife for trade, and achieve the transformative changes to our relationship with wild animals and nature on which the future of all life on this earth ultimately depends.
Image © M McAdams