World Animal Protection calls for a ban on global wildlife trade to prevent another pandemic
The organization has claimed that wildlife markets pose a risk to public health and animal welfare
TORONTO — With the support of animal advocates and public figures, global charity World Animal Protection has called on the federal government to permanently ban the global wildlife trade.
In an open joint letter to the Prime Minister, the charity stated this would help prevent future pandemics such as COVID-19. Public figures such as Jann Arden and Duffy Sainte-Marie — along with a growing coalition of Canadian animal protection groups, zoonotic disease experts and ecologists — have signed the letter.
According to the open letter, World Animal Protection has claimed that wildlife markets pose a risk to public health and animal welfare. It is acknowledged that a wildlife market in Wuhan, China played a significant role in the COVID-19 outbreak. The market reportedly sold many live and dead wild animals, including bats, snakes and hedgehogs.
Scientific research has suggested coronavirus may have been transmitted from bats to pangolins to humans. These markets typically have a diverse range of animals, forced into crowded, unsanitary conditions and in close proximity to humans.
Experts have agreed that curbing the trade will be an effective strategy. At least 70% of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases are believed to originate from wildlife.
“Millions of bacteria and viruses remain undiscovered in wildlife and the more we encroach on their habitats and move them across the world, the greater the disease risk to people and animals,” said Scott Weese, director of the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses and professor at the University of Guelph, in a prepared statement. “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ we’ll encounter a new disease. It’s ‘when’ will the next one occur.”
A new poll from Northstar Research Partners found Canadians are concerned about the impact of the global wildlife trade. Results include that 89% believe the wildlife trade threatens human health and can cause pandemics, while 70% support a ban on the commercial wildlife trade.
To date, more than 29,000 Canadians have signed a petition urging the Canadian government to address the likely reason for this outbreak.
World Animal Protection’s Campaign Director Melissa Matlow said in a statement, “This is a global problem, requiring a global solution and support for this campaign is growing every week. Canadians are joining people around the world who are asking their governments to act and commit to end the wildlife trade. Now is the time to build our world back better and stop this problem at the source.”