A monkey looks through metal bars

Protect Them, Protect Us

When we protect animals, we protect ourselves

COVID-19 transformed our world. We 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.

A bat hanging upside down on a wire fence

© B. Jaschinski

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.

Play video A photo of a pangolin on a tree branch


Born Free’s short film Protect Them. Protect Us, narrated by our Founder Patron Joanna Lumley OBE, was launched in January 2021. The film explains why we must take action now to close wildlife markets, reset our relationship with the natural world, and invest in nature. “Our treatment of the natural world has brought the planet to the brink. It is time for us to step away from the edge, for the sake of all life on Earth.” – Joanna Lumley OBE
The Malang bird market, lots of cages of birds stacked on top of each other in the street

Wildlife & Pandemics

Born Free has long campaigned against the commercial trade in wild animals to protect wildlife in the wild, prevent exploitation and end the suffering of millions of animals.

The coronavirus pandemic, and its devastating impacts on the lives of people and the global economy, has brought home the risks that commercial wildlife trade and consumption also pose to human society.

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