Wildlife & Pandemics
LEARNING LESSONS FROM COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic had devastating impacts on people and the global economy. It brought into sharp focus the risks that commercial wildlife trading poses to human society. The warning signs have been there for years, but we have failed to learn from past mistakes. We cannot afford to do so again.
Scientists estimate that around 60% of all emerging infectious diseases affecting people are of zoonotic (animal) origin, and around 70% of these originate from wildlife. However, wild animals are not to blame for pandemics. It’s only when we disrupt, exploit, and stress those animals that we create conditions in which disease-causing pathogens can emerge, spread, mutate and then spill over to other animals and to people. The destruction of natural ecosystems and the trade in and consumption of wild animals, whether legal or illegal and whether taken from the wild or bred in captivity, is therefore one of the underlying causes of pandemics.
As the world recovers from covid-19, a return to business as usual cannot be an option. Unless we take strong action to prevent the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases we will be faced with more, and possibly more devastating pandemics.
Born Free is working hard to secure the adoption and implementation of a strong international agreement between governments on preventing, preparing for, and responding to future pandemics. A key focus is preventing the ‘spill over’ of disease-causing pathogens from animals to humans by ending the high-risk situations created when we disrupt and stress wild animals.
PROFITS VERSUS SURVIVAL
The destruction of wildlife habitats, together with our ever increasing demand for wild animals as food, medicines, pets, ornaments, fashion and for a host of other purposes, bring us into ever closer unnatural contact, increasing the risk of disease transmission.
Born Free is calling for an end to commercial wildlife markets and the global exploitation of wild animals for commercial trade.
However, we do recognise that many people currently depend on wild animals as a source of food for their survival. Therefore, while we are not calling for an end to the use of wildlife for subsistence purposes, we are encouraging projects that deliver alternative sources of protein to subsistence consumers of wild animals and offer alternative livelihoods for those who rely on wildlife trade for a living. This can help reduce the risk to human health and wildlife populations.
If you agree action needs to be taken to secure a safer and healthier future for wildlife and people alike, please support our efforts and share these messages with your family and friends.