Wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases: implications for trade policy

21 May, 2021

Wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC published a paper indicating what is known of links between wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases and, on this basis, to consider implications for future wildlife trade policy and longer-term remedial measures.

A wide range of organisations and public voices are calling for strong permanent prohibitions on wild animal trade to reduce risks to human health.

Beyond the reality of important operational challenges common to most organisations and businesses, the COVID-19 crisis has particularly poignant relevance for organisations working in the field of wildlife trade.  Although the origins of the disease are currently unproven, there are strong indications of a wild animal source and a direct link to wildlife trade in China.  Specifically, a significant proportion of early cases in China involved people who had worked at or visited a market in Wuhan where wild animals were on sale and initial research results pointed to a possible transmission pathway from bats via pangolins to people.

Even if indications of this link prove in future to be mistaken, the COVID-19 outbreak has attracted strong attention to a growing number of examples of wildlife-sourced diseases emerging as important human health concerns in recent decades.   For many of these examples, there are strong indications of diseases transmission links to trade and consumption of wild animal species.

In light of initial evidence of the origins of COVID-19, China introduced emergency measures in February 2020 restricting wild animal trade and consumption.  Viet Nam and other countries are considering similar emergency responses.


Source: TRAFFIC, a leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

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