COVID-19 has transformed our world. We’ve had to radically change how we live to save lives.
But, this is just a short-term fix. Because, unless we change our ways, another pandemic will happen again – much sooner than we think.
In the last 20 years, we’ve faced SARS, MERS, ebola, zika, swine flu – and now COVID-19. And it’s inevitable that another deadly virus is out there.
But, to deal with the very immediate threat of another global catastrophe, we have to focus on ending the destruction and conversion of natural habitats and the devastating impact of the wildlife trade.
Wild animals are cruelly caught, traded, stacked, shipped, killed and consumed in wildlife markets. Many of them carry viruses to which they have developed immunity over thousands of years.
We, however, do not have such protection. A virus that can live in a healthy bat can infect and kill us by the million. As we are witnessing across the globe right now.
What caused the COVID-19 outbreak? A bat? A pangolin? No – it was us. Because of our treatment of nature.
It's estimated that as many as 1.7 million unidentified viruses exist in animals. Any one of these could be the cause of the next pandemic.
As an essential first step, wildlife markets must close. The shutters need to come down – for good. We must learn. We must re-educate ourselves. We must act. Now.
When we protect them all, we protect ourselves.
Born Free has joined forces with a new short film Protect Them. Protect Us, narrated by Born Free's Founder Patron Joanna Lumley OBE. Launched in January 2021, Protect Them. Protect Us explains why we must take action now to close wildlife markets, reset our relationship with the natural world, and invest in nature.
There's so many ways you can make the world a better place for wildlife. With just a few small changes, you can make a real difference. If every individual made just one small change, we can ensure a better future for people and animals.
You should never underestimate your power. Tell your local representatives and politicians you want them to prioritise and promote the protection of wildlife and animal welfare in their policies. Add your name to online petitions about issues you feel strongly about, or email them directly.
Born Free has a number of pre-written emails you can send straight to the inboxes of the people responsible for making the decisions that matter, so you can let them know how strongly you feel on issues ranging from the closure of wildlife markets, to recognising animal sentience.
Spread the word about the importance of nature, wildlife protection and animal welfare among friends and family. Talk with them about the changes you would like to see in the world, and the areas or issues you think should be prioritised.
On your social media feeds, share important posts, new campaigns, stories, videos and positive actions you and others can take to make it count.
And remember, there's so many ways to express your views. Why not try creative writing, poetry, art, dance or drama?
Encourage wildlife in your local area by making your garden wildlife-friendly, and supporting the development of local wildlife initiatives. Ideas on how you can do this in the UK are:
The wild is a very dangerous place for wildlife, particularly as human activities that negatively impact upon wildlife are increasing and expanding to all corners of the globe. However, Born Free firmly believes that animals belong in the wild where they can be free, and that they deserve to have access to the space and resources that they need to thrive.
You can support the efforts of Born Free, and of many other wildlife conservation groups, who work to monitor, conserve and protect wildlife and their habitats across the world, while striving to promote a harmonious co-existence with the local communities who live alongside them.
Stop captive animal suffering. Avoid attractions and activities that exploit captive wild animals – both in your own country or when you are travelling internationally. These include zoos, dolphinaria, circuses, animal shows, animal encounters and where animals are used as props for selfies.
We can all take steps to ensure our travels or activities do not impact on captive wild animal welfare or promote exploitation. Plan your holidays and research any activities that may involve wild animals. Make sure you only book excursions through responsible tour operators and travel companies. Check out Born Free’s Raise the Red Flag map.
Challenge attractions on their conservation and animal welfare claims. How much of their funds go towards conservation initiatives? What conservation projects are they working on, if any? How do they ensure the best possible welfare standards for their animals?
Send Born Free your eyewitness reports via Raise the Red Flag.
Do you represent a business? Business for Nature, in which Born Free is a Partner, is a global coalition bringing together influential organisations and forward-thinking businesses to demonstrate business action and amplify a powerful business voice, calling for governments to reverse nature loss.